Business PR Strategy

Why the Bake-Off is a Perfect Marketing Example

Posted by Deborah | July 28th, 2015 | No responses


It’s heading back to our screens within days, and we’re all set for water-cooler gossip around who’s got a saggy bottom and who had perky buns.

When the Great British Bake-Off first aired in 2010, it would have seemed a case of wishful thinking to assume it would be a ratings-winner and still going strong at the sixth series.

After all, this is TV show filmed in a tent.

It features a few people mixing ingredients and trying to improve on the kind of cake or bake your granny used to knock up for Sunday afternoon tea.

I mean – what could possibly make that into such a genius marketing recipe?

The truth is, the bake-off is so very much more than a mere cooking show to pass the time while you’re standing ironing in the evening (or munching your way through Maltesers and updating your social media).

It’s hit so many buttons in the public conscious that it’s actually no wonder it has gone from a BBC 2 offering with 2,000,000 viewers, to a BBC 1 primetime airing with upwards of 10 million watchers!

So what can it teach those of us who want to create a brand / a product / a service or a business concept which attracts a sizeable audience?
Is there some genius of PR and marketing activity hidden beneath its offering?

Hype and extremist tactics aren’t always necessary

Part of the reason we all love The Bakeoff is its simplicity and its ability to make us all feel we can ‘be part of that’ (by having a go in our own kitchen, or judging visually). Not all successful PR and marketing tactics need to be based on a ‘big fuss’ but on well thought-through activities based on the mindsets of real people living real lives.


Real people make for great engagement

There’s nothing high-celeb about this show. Even Mel and Sue were relatively less known (unless, like me, you sat watching their daytime show as a student!). We like that we can get to know everyday people who are ‘having a go’.

Again, PR and marketing works really well when it connects with the types of men and women we see in our everyday lives.

Translate that to PR campaigns and it’s why people like me always urge clients to come up with genuine people-based casestudies.


Let the audience participate

As with any PR endeavour these days, you want engagement from a mass audience. You can gain that successfully through great interaction on social media, and this is something the BakeOff does very well.

Not only does it encourage conversation, but leads to the sharing of baking images and much more.
Always incorporate opportunities for engagement in your marketing plan rather than purely broadcast to your audience.


Likeability beats egocentric every time

The fact that we ‘like’ Mary Berry and the team of people inside the tent, makes this show work.

We don’t always want to have to stare at the face of ego-tastic presenters.
Bear this in mind with the way you present your brand through your marketing channels.

Are you likeable and reachable? If you are and your messaging says as much, people will feel more connected to the brand and its story.


Be playful with your delivery

Mel and Sue – as well as Paul and Mary – have managed to put a touch of the playful into a relatively straightforward show premise around simply baking.

This warms the audience and makes us like them for not taking themselves too seriously. Wit can come hand in hand with wisdom.

When thinking about your marketing tactics, try to take a step back from your corporate goals and see the lighter side in what you’re trying to deliver.

Is your messaging too austere?


Know that everything has a lifespan and you’re only as good as your ratings

There’s a sense with the Bake Off team that they know only too well that they’ll be on screen for as long as their audience want them to be, and that they’re not going to keep ramming it down our throats if we’ve grown bored.

This is critical for any marketing initiative. Know when your engagement is working, and when it’s time to close a chapter and start a new one.



**For more marketing or PR support or tips, or to discuss future projects, contact Deborah on 07974 359001 or email


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