The GBBO effect: How cake and Mary Berry have won the internetThe GBBO effect: How cake and Mary Berry have won the internet

The GBBO effect: How cake and Mary Berry have won the internet

Written by Axonn on 27th Oct 2016

That’s it. It’s over. The Great British Bake Off as we know it has finished. This year’s series has brought us highs and lows – both on-screen and off – making it the most successful run ever.

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[BBC/Love Productions]

Not only have fans been on the edge of their seats over the baked – or unbaked – treats, series seven has resulted in quotes, lipstick shades and heartthrobs that have all managed to send social media into a tizzy.

On top of this, the news that the beloved BBC show will be making a move to Channel Four, without Mary Berry, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc caused a social media meltdown – for good reason I feel.

From tumbling gingerbread churches to ‘Thor’s hammer’ made out of bread, we’ve laughed, cried and raised eyebrows along with the contestants. But exactly what has made The Great British Bake Off so successful?


[BBC/ Love Productions]

#GBBO: Trending topics

Each week has seen millions of people posting their thoughts on the show, the contestants, the innuendos and the baking, resulting in worldwide trending topics – that’s right Bake Off has gone global.

From discussions over Candice’s lipstick – I thought Twitter might explode when it looked like her brand of choice was revealed – to laid-back Selasi GIFs and discussions over just how posh a Viennetta is, GBBO has provided plenty of opportunities for brands and marketers to jump on the bandwagon.

During the first episode alone, the show prompted 3,000 mentions a minute, according to Brand Watch, with two of the most popular moments being Mary’s reaction to someone using gin and Paul thinking it was acceptable to dunk a jaffa cake in his tea – seriously, who does that?

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[BBC/ Love Productions]

This trend continued throughout the series, peaking during last night’s (Wednesday, October 27th) final, which got tens of thousands of mentions across social media – as well as 53.3 per cent of the viewer share between 8pm and 9pm – as people celebrated and commiserated the result and the end of the show as we know and love it.

Every week brought with it it’s own trending topics in reaction to disasters, looks contestants gave each other other – let’s not forget Andrew’s appreciative smile at Candice asking “Can you come and grab my jugs please?” – and fantastic quotes (“There is nothing posher than a Viennetta, darling”).

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[BBC/Love Productions]

The end of an era

It wasn’t just the episodes that prompted strong responses from fans, the news that Bake Off was making a move to Channel Four from it’s home at the BBC was met with disbelief but there was no shocked silence.

Twitter and Facebook experienced a maelstrom of reactions as the news broke, with each new piece of information regarding the change prompting yet more social media posts. This culminated when it was confirmed that Mary Berry would not be leaving the BBC to follow the show.

Even though the much-loved judge isn’t on Twitter, she was the queen of social media before this news, with 44 per cent of the GBBO-related mentions focussing on her and her amazing facial expressions during the first episode of the season. As it broke that she would be saying farewell to the tent, things got even crazier.

Despite this, she was beaten to the top of the mentions by Paul – granted only by one per cent – during episode six, as it was announced that he was following the money the show to Channel Four.

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[BBC/Love Productions]

This isn’t to say that she was the only one fans were sad to hear was leaving, as Mel and Sue’s departure also prompted a great outpouring across social. There seemed to be continual outcry at the loss of the dynamic duo, but this really came to a head during the semi-finals episode, which saw their mentions – particularly Sue’s with 2,800 – spike as people lamented the fact that this was their last series.

Brand reactions

With the popularity of The Great British Bake Off increasing year-on-year, it’s no surprise that brands and marketers have done what they can to jump on the bandwagon. However, it’s no good just mentioning the show and using an appropriate hashtag now, as companies have continued to compete for the most-talked-about post relating to the show.

This has meant that videos, gifs, memes, custom graphics and every available resource under the marketing sun has been used, with brands at the ready to post throughout each episode, during the fallout over the big move and in the wake of each week’s Star Baker announcement.

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[BBC/Love Products]

From Innocent Smoothies’ pumpkin carved with a number four to wish everyone a happy Halloween just before the start of the final to Lidl giving us a great pun as it bid farewell to Mary, brands have done what they can to be part of the conversation.

However, it was those who went the extra mile and continued the conversation when people responded to their posts that really won, proving that a great concept based on a trending topic is not enough to get your brand noticed.

The best marketing campaigns based around GBBO were consistent, well-planned but still reactive, which left many brands with soggy bottoms, showing that a well-thought out strategy goes a long way even when you don’t know what the results will be.


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