Advertisers reveal how they've profited from Great British Bake Off bump

Away from the sponsors a raft of brands invested in ads around the Bake Off including PG Tips, KFC, Stork and eBay

With the season finale poised to air tonight (31 Oct), the Great British Bake Off's first group of advertisers reveal how they've benefitted from the Bake Off bump.

Great British Bake Off’s shock £75m move to Channel 4 opened up the commercial biscuit tin and questions were raised about how the broadcaster would strike the balance between bringing value to advertisers while retaining the loyal audience.

When it comes to the numbers, the proof, is indeed, in the pudding. GBBO has been the most successful series for C4 in over six years, averaging an overnight audience of 6 million per-episode, which rose to 8.9 million per-episode for those who viewed over a seven day period.

Crucially, it has helped the show’s sponsors - Tate + Lyle and Dr Oetker - engage hard-to-reach young audiences as it took the TV crown for the most-watched series for 16 to 34-year-olds this year, with an average of 2.5m tuning in per-episode.

While the finale is still to be aired, for co-sponsor Lyle’s Golden Syrup the early results show its investment is yielding fruit, noting week-on-week growth in sales versus the same period last year and a two-fold uptick in web traffic to their site from people looking for recipes and tips.

Selling like hotcakes

When the initial sponsorship auction was announced, with a rumoured £8m price tag to match, the brand went straight to its media agency m/Six to find out any which way it could get involved with the show.

“We expected the sponsorship to be far too expensive for us to jump on,” Sara Metcalfe brand and product group manager for syrups at Tate & Lyle told The Drum.

It wasn’t until “very late in the day,” that the opportunity to sign on as a sponsor popped up despite several other bids from “some bigger brands and some retailers.”

Despite the heavy interest, it was C4’s suggestion that the legacy British company should team up with Dr Oetker.

It’s been estimated that the pair stumped up around £4m for the deal, with idents from both bookmarking the episodes. For Dr Oetker, growth in spontaneous brand awareness and opportunity to engage both bakers and aspiring bakers were key drivers.

The company's playful creative, which featured singing bakes including ‘Frederico Fudge’ and ’Sasha Swirl’ have driven a 40% increase in spontaneous brand awareness from pre to during the show.

“We’re also encouraged by the 23% increase in sign-ups to our ‘We Bake’ initiative - a social network for bakers,” added Jan McKee, executive head of marketing for Dr Oetker UK.

One of the challenges faced by Lyle's is that consumers will buy a tin and it will sit in the back of their cupboard, and while Metcalfe said it's a little too early to draw any robust conclusions, the brand has experienced somewhat of a "halo effect" from its association with the show.

Following the dough

Away from the sponsors a raft of brands invested in ads around the Bake Off including PG Tips, KFC, Stork and eBay. The latter had an official partnership with Channel 4 and showcased its new ‘Fill Your Cart With Colour’ UK platform in the first ad slot during each episode.

The online marketplace wanted to appeal to a fresh generation of shoppers and highlight its role as a direct seller that can help people bring to life their passions, be it baking or cycling.

Gareth Jones, eBay UK’s marketing director said the brand had to turn around creative ahead of each of the show's famously themed weekly challenges - be it 'bread week' or 'pastry week'.

“I’ve never worked as quickly. For the first show - which went live on the Tuesday, we filmed the ad on the Saturday, which was a bank holiday weekend. We edited it on the Sunday, to go live on the Tuesday," he recalled.

While the marketer concedes it's too early to reveal any concrete results, he said that eBay's effort to wrap itself around culture and get itself involved in the Bake Off buzz was "spot on," and that the C4 partnership worked out well even though initially the retail had eyed a sponsorship opportunity.

"It was consciously last moment to make the content in the ad break relevant to what was going on in the show, in most instances we managed to nail that," he said.

Dr Oetker and Lyle’s have also been looking to capitalise on a 'Bake Off bump', particularly on Twitter, with reactive, fast-paced content. This evening, to coincide with the final, Lyle’s social media ‘war room’ will come alive, with a team of ad execs and brand marketers crafting tweets and memes in real-time.

However, the knife-edge excitement might not be as palpable as it would have been given that Bake Off host Prue Leith inadvertently tweeted out the name of the winner this morning.

Alongside the TV ads, online content has proven fruitful for the brands involved. Data from Hitwise indicates that searches for Lyle’s Golden Syrup surged throughout the series, increasing nearly by 46%, while Dr Oekter’s have grown 13% over the past two months.

As for whether viewers will still tune in after Leith's blunder, for which she has unreservedly apologised, Jones isn't concerned.

“We live in the age of the spoiler alert. For today’s TV viewers, it’s as much about the talk-ability of a show, as it is about what’s happening on-screen," he said.

"Bake Off fans are still going to be tuning in to tonight’s finale. If anything Prue’s Twitter faux-pas has just amplified the excitement. eBay wants to be part of these cultural moments and we have a dedicated social team reacting to these great online conversations."

Jonathan Allan, sales director at Channel 4, which will invest GBBO revenues back into its own programming, said: "Bake Off is a massive success in its new home on Channel 4 delivering record audiences, boosting investment in our public service programming and is the biggest series on British television for young viewers so far this year."

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

All by Rebecca