The Great British Bake Off; a honey pot of marketing opportunities

Digital, Marketing 2016-09-21

The Great British Bake Off, the hit “quintessentially BBC Programme” will now be broadcast on the UK’s Channel 4 after negotiations between BBC One and Love Productions went sour on Monday the 12th of September. With the 2015 final pulling in an average of 13.4 million viewers throughout the episode, it’s no surprise that GBBO (as it’s commonly known) was 2015’s most watched programme. Losing one of its most successful programmes is clearly a big blow for BBC One…but why is it so successful? Will moving away from the BBC impact on its ever growing popularity? Potentially yes, as the dynamic duo Mel and Sue announce they will stand down as the programme’s hosts.


However, the concept of the programme is undeniably attractive. The show has something for everyone: From yummy cakes and humorous hosts to crying over failed show-stoppers and Paul Hollywood’s brutal, no-nonsense judging. It’s inoffensive, easy viewing that has something for everyone – what’s not to love? The target audience seems to be the entire population. Cooking judge Mary Berry is a familiar face to the older generation, with her cookbooks taking pride of place in many homes since the 1970s, whereas the contestants come from all walks of life – the youngest being only 17 years old. Not only is the content of the programme enticing, but the way in which the programme markets itself and its social media strategy seem to be key in whipping up its viewers into a frenzy.


Twitter and GBBOs youthful tone

The Ying to the programme’s Yang is Twitter. Although the show’s Facebook newsfeed is lively, the @BritishBakeOff Twitter account has a strong 490K following. The feed is updated in real time during the programme encouraging a ‘tweetalong’ with viewers via the hashtag #GBBO, creating a buzz about the show as the drama unfolds. The tone the Twitter and Facebook accounts use to talk about the show appeals to the average viewer in a relatable and engaging way. They make sure to bring attention to the never ending reel of innuendos and the contestants’ baking faux pas. How could we forget Mary Berry’s #SoggyBottom? Or the controversy around Ian’s Baked Alaska? The apparent sabotage of his dessert led to public outcry and the hashtag #bingate trended on Twitter with a whopping 10,700 mentions. By promoting a relaxed and funny conversation online, GBBO entertains its viewers both on and off screen. However, it isn’t without risk; the innuendos that are now infamous from the show have been a cause for concern for some viewers, who believe the show sometimes takes it that step too far towards ‘smutty’ and detracts from the competition. Overall, the GBBO team tap into the way the viewer is thinking and influence the online conversation extremely well.


Harnessing the power of gifs and memes

The social media accounts regularly use clips and quotes from the live show to create content in the form of memes and gifs. This type of content is far more engaging than a normal text post. By being light-hearted, relatable and providing instant laughs; both memes and gifs are very ‘of the moment’ and easy to share on social media. This means that the GBBO content quickly spreads throughout the twitter sphere.


Engaging with viewers

The post-show programme, Extra Slice, later on in the week ensures the GBBO conversation never dies down. Here, viewers are asked to send in photos of their best and worst bakes via the hashtag #ExtraSlice, that are then either praised or mocked on the show and across social media. By sharing their baking experiences and seeing their own content on the show, viewer satisfaction and engagement is at an all time high.

The Great British Bake Off really knows how to engage with its target audience and keep them coming back for more. Its dominance and youthful approach to creating content for Twitter has meant its popularity as a show has increased year on year. To honour the programme’s well deserved Twitter success, GBBO now has its very own GBBO emoji, featuring the bake-off tent which pops up whenever you use the #GBBO hashtag.



The Bake off effect

It’s not just GBBO that reaps the benefits from its top viewer ratings; many businesses have noticed and taken advantage of ‘The Bake-Off Effect’. The marketing potential of the show itself is enormous. Whatever jacket Mary Berry wears seems to sell out by the end of the episode, and now that the show is moving onto Channel 4 we may see more product placement creeping onto our screens. Advertising will undoubtedly be in demand in between the show, but are there easier ways to utilise GBBO for marketing your business?


The number of baking products sold during the 2015 Bake Off season increased by 214 per cent in comparison to the weeks prior to the show. In response, supermarkets such as Morrisons employed ‘Bake-Off officers’ purely to watch the show and, as a result, predict next week’s demand for cookery items and stock appropriately. Waitrose goes as far to say that the 11 weeks that GBBO runs is the third most important event for grocery sales in the calendar behind Easter and Christmas – grocery sales alone increased by up to 392%. Kenwood also has used the bake off-induced cooking craze to its advantage by planning to coincide promotion of its KitchenAid mixers with the beginning of The Bake Off season 2016.


It isn’t just kitchen utensil providers and supermarkets that have got on board with The Bake Off craze. By getting involved with the #GBBO conversation on social media, brands can market themselves to viewers without them even realising. Most often when they’re most relaxed, with a cup of tea in front of the telly. Brands who get involved with the GBBO conversation make themselves look more personable to their current followers, using the opportunity to show off their personality and not just their products or services. It’s also a chance for brands and businesses to be exposed to a new audience they may not usually reach or think to advertise to.



Shortlist Magazine is a good example of an unlikely brand to get involved with this ‘in the moment marketing’. As an upmarket, men’s magazine it kept its GBBO tweets relevant by sharing tech stories about baking and kitchen-wear as well as funny gifs. The London Fire Brigade also got involved with the GBBO conversation to promote a more serious issue. By tweeting its own videos and writing relevant blog content featuring bakers and topics from the show, the Fire Brigade aimed to remind viewers of the importance of kitchen safety and fire hazards.



So, the morale of the story is that even if you don’t tune into the Great British Bake Off, there seems to be no reason why you and your business can’t get involved with all the potential marketing opportunities.

– Tell me what you think on Twitter @EllenAtNotch