Brands, set your timers now for the Great British Bake Off

Great British Bake Off - channel 4

There are many things we don’t know yet about this series of the Great British Bake Off, and while the airtime has just been announced as 29 August, still the contestants and the challenges – even the décor of the iconic tent – are all yet to be revealed. But one thing is clear: the show’s move to a new channel means we’ve never felt the temperature rising to such levels before the show begins.

This year, for the first time, the programme will air on a commercial channel, and brands have been given the opportunity to advertise alongside one of country’s most beloved shows. In fact, the first official sponsors - popular baking brands Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Dr. Oetker – are one of the few things we do know about this series.

Getting a slice of the pie

In the past, paying top dollar to sponsor the nation’s biggest TV shows could be the (expensive) cornerstone of a brand’s advertising strategy. However, the way we consume and interact with TV content has changed dramatically in recent years, demanding a more sophisticated, holistic approach to advertising and opening the door to brands that lack the financial clout to invest in high value TV sponsorship.

In fact, shows that have a breadth of popularity like the Great British Bake Off offer an opportunity for all brands to tap into the excitement. With consumer interest sky high, avid fans are already talking about the show on social media and even those brands not able to afford the lofty price tag that goes along with broadcast sponsorship, have a chance to be a part of the conversation.

Smart brands who combine real-time trends – such as those gathered from social platforms – with deeper insights into audience attitudes and behaviours will be able to identify, understand and accurately target the right audiences.

Knowing, for example – as our TGI data shows – that a Great British Bake Off fan is likely to enjoy reading magazines and be a mobile internet user, instantly helps brands understand how best to engage. And knowing that those same consumers are less likely than the average shopper to buy products from companies who sponsor TV programmes and more likely to shop at Ocado or M&S could help immensely with tailoring messages to target them.

Beyond the broadcast window

The TV set still accounts for the majority of viewing, but consumption increasingly extends to other screens, companion devices and digital platforms, driven in particular by the rise of online players and streaming services. Brands with broadcast campaigns should be using these platforms to complement their activity, and those without can take advantage of the opportunity to target specific audiences.

Social media now plays a huge role in how consumers interact with broadcast content. According to our Kantar Social TV Ratings (KSTR) tool, the final episode of last season’s Bake Off generated 234,600 tweets in the UK during the broadcast window alone, creating 60.8m total impressions on Twitter. And that conversation continued well beyond the broadcast itself, with over 431,000 related tweets measured in the week of the finale, driving almost a staggering 100m impressions.

Individual contestants also hold huge engagement power for viewers on social platforms. Last year, Selasi proved to be the baker most mentioned by name in the semi-final, with over 25,000 mentions during the broadcast window. Whilst Candice, who went on to win the show, was ranked the least popular contestant by Twitter at that stage, registering the highest level of criticism.

By being nimble to respond to events as they play out on the screen – from surprise exits from the tent through to contestants burning, or even dropping, their bake – brands can extend engagement with fans beyond initial broadcasts, tapping into into the social conversations that are already taking place and targeting more socially engaged viewers.

Of course, social conversations are just one element in a vast web of connected channels that we now use to engage with the programmes we watch. Brands need to ensure they’re factoring in social and earned media alongside the traditional broadcast opportunity and taking a truly holistic approach to campaigns.

Above all else, avoid getting burned

The Great British Bake Off‘s transition to a commercial channel for the first time, has resistance resonating amongst some fans. For brands engaging in commercial partnerships, or any marketing strategies, alongside the show, having a degree of sensitivity towards viewers’ reactions and opinions is paramount.

Brands need to be aware and alert to the shifts in consumer sentiment and, rather than risk creating ad strategies in a marketing vacuum, instead use all of the tools and data resources at their disposal to test creative in advance, putting the methods in place to understand consumer responses in real-time.

Finally, as is the case with any new campaign, brands need to maximise the use of the full arsenal of measurement tools. By measuring the impact of, and response to ads as the new series of the Great British Bake Off progresses, smart brands will refine their strategies, adapting creative and accurately targeting ads to ensure they’re achieving only the best results.

Richard Poustie is chief executive UK & Ireland at Kantar Media

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