User-generated crosswords


The client came to a start-up agency in Chicago for ideas on how to increase purchase frequency of their Riesen chocolate candy. They had tried print and banner ads but were not getting results.


People eat Riesen chocolate candy when they do the crossword puzzle. The cliché is “during me time.” According to their research, It’s an indulgence enjoyed by both genders. Particularly among men and women over forty who have kids, went to college and need time alone to recharge.


Build a crossword that would attract and engage the target. Since there are a million sources of free and subscription crosswords, create a new category. Viral crossword puzzles.

There are seven requirements for online word-of-mouth.

  1. Gives them something novel and useful for free
  2. Makes it effortless to transfer to others through common channels
  3. Ensures it can go from big to small with no problems
  4. Uses existing communication behaviors
  5. Uses the target’s networks and contacts
  6. Takes advantage of other people’s resources
  7. It has to make the sender look good.

Our goal was to create a new category of crossword puzzle. Not just any crossword, but ones that you’ll know the answers to. The video explains how it works.


  • Since this is a free app/widget/web app that enables users to create a personalized crossword we’re giving away something free
  • It transfers with a send, a share and social links
  • It’s digital therefore scalable, sends instantly and easily with no additional requirements
  • It takes advantage and provides access to existing social networks
  • The content is user-generated and is therefore more relevant to the group and more likely to be shared and viewed
  • Helps the target’s group bond, creating affinity for brand


The agency sold them an email marketing campaign instead.

Examples of the banner ads Riesen needed to replaced.