Case Study

How Tesco and BBH used 'The Great British Bake Off' to champion 'Every little helps'

Tesco and BBH London's work around The Great British Bake Off was one of the case studies entered into the 2016 New Thinking Awards, in partnership with Sky Media. To spread the innovation and fresh ideas found in the entries, Campaign is publishing the best papers.

Agency: BBH London

Brand: Tesco

Category: Marketing in the moment

Key results

Our creative managed to cut through in what was a crowded topic, significantly exceeding Facebook’s average for video view rates.

On the day of The Great British Bake Off final, our #BakeOn Twitter trend was seen 21.3 million times and the content itself was seen 2.4 million times. On top of this, the roughly 17,000 mentions of the hashtag made it clear the trend had captured the excitement of the moment.

This success was further compounded by Tesco being voted the number-one brand on Twitter to deliver cut-through during Bake Off. We even beat the BBC itself, proving Tesco was truly the brand of the moment.

Perhaps most importantly, Britain had started associating Tesco with being helpful again. September, which saw the majority of our Bake Off content, delivered the highest lift across Q4 for perceptions of Tesco as a helpful brand (+7% versus delta), proving beyond a doubt that "every little helps".

What we did and why

As part of Tesco’s aim to rekindle the meaning of "every little helps", we wanted to put our customers back at the heart of everything we did and connect our helpfulness to the moments that truly matter to them. Britain’s love for The Great British Bake Off represented one such moment, so we decided to help.

Over the course of seven consecutive weeks, we produced seven press executions, six social video tutorials, five social GIFs, an Instagram carousel, a promoted Twitter trend and numerous in-store and online tips, all designed to help Britons continuously perfect their bakes.

Our video tutorials were devised and shot prior to the TV episodes and were posted reactively, based on which tip we thought would be most helpful each week. Our helpful press executions, social GIFs and online tips were all planned, written, designed, shot, booked and supplied within eight working days.

How we made the decision to go ahead

Each week, from 26 August 2015 until the final on 7 October, we would scour resources to try to ascertain the episode theme for each week. With a written teaser released on BBC iPlayer each Monday, we then had just over a week to produce each ad in order for it to be live within a matter of minutes – or hours, in the case of press – of the corresponding episode airing.

This process was made possible by having a small number of key stakeholders to gather product information each week and approve creative executions, as well as flexible production processes such as agile media bookings and photographer and shoot-location reservations. While not without its challenges each week, this streamlined, integrated process allowed Tesco to be more helpful in the moment than ever before, and has become our standard process for subsequent reactive campaigns.

How we measured success

Our ambition throughout The Great British Bake Off was to increase perceptions of Tesco as a helpful brand.

We measured this in several ways. First, social engagement with our helpful GIFs and videos proved that, amid an enormous amount of chatter about Britain’s best-loved TV series, our creative managed to cut through, with a video view rate of 34%, versus the UK Facebook average of 20%-27%.

We also measured online buzz, through which we were able to see a changing and increasingly positive conversation about Tesco. This resulted in Tesco being voted the number-one brand on Twitter throughout the series – beating even the BBC.

Most importantly, however, our brand tracking showed Britain associating Tesco with helpfulness again. A 7% uplift in perceptions of Tesco as a helpful brand proved beyond doubt that, certainly when it comes to baking, "every little helps".

Background: A knead for change

When The Great British Bake Off opened its oven doors for another season in 2015, Tesco was on a journey of transformation. Britain’s trust in the retailer had eroded and the company was on a mission to get back to its best. To get there, we needed to rekindle the true meaning behind "every little helps". This could be achieved only by putting the customer back at the heart of the business, and by consistently demonstrating helpfulness in all we did. But helpfulness in isolation from a real need is merely a random act of kindness. To prove ourselves genuinely helpful, we needed to connect with the moments that truly mattered to people in modern culture.

The opportunity: Britain is baking-mad

In 2014, The Great British Bake Off final drew a staggering average of 13.5 million viewers. It had become the most-watched programme on British TV , beating even Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. Behaviour followed. A survey revealed that baking was more popular than ever, with 19% of people saying they now baked at least once a week and nearly half admitting to baking more than they did five years ago. What was more, 13% of people confessed to being directly "inspired by The Great British Bake Off".

This quintessential British baking competition had undoubtedly become a moment in mainstream culture that truly mattered to people, and not only did Tesco have a brilliant range with which to respond, it was also more than eager to help. With our "every little helps" philosophy now firmly back at the heart of everything we did, we saw this as an opportunity to not only market, but also help, in the moment.

What we did and how: Let them eat cake

Research revealed that our customers were experiencing a conundrum. Due to either time pressure or lack of experience or skills, their enthusiasm for baking often outweighed their ability. Britain deserved better than soggy-bottomed tarts, sinking cakes and meringues collapsing in a heap of eggy foam and broken dreams. So Tesco helped.

From proactive baking events right through to reactive content, we devised a spectrum of ways in which we could help Britain’s budding bakers hone their skills and recreate what they’d seen on the show. We began with Tesco’s colleagues, helping them improve their skills (and win prizes) in a series of staff Bake Off events.

We then focused on developing a host of tactical activity to help our customers. With no affiliation to the BBC, which kept information on the upcoming Bake Off content a closely guarded secret, we never knew what was coming next.

All we had to go on was research into previous series’ most common bakes, and the trailer at the end of each episode for the forthcoming week. But this proactive scouting held us in good stead.

For seven consecutive weeks, we commenced an accelerated process that involved us researching, briefing, writing, shooting, approving, booking and supplying our ads, all within a matter of days. This meant we were able to keep in sync with the pace of the programme makers and as such, respond to the episodes with genuinely helpful work.

We taught people how to bake crème brûlée, perfect their pastry, ice cakes like a pro, and make world-class chocolate creations. And no matter their ability, Tesco was there to help.

For keen and more confident bakers, we featured full-blown recipes in-store, in our social communities and on the Tesco Real Food website. For the less confident, but still keen, bakers, we reacted to the theme of the corresponding week’s episode by presenting myriad tips, through in-store signage and short social posts, to help reduce common baking errors.

Online, we helped them brush up on their baking skills through a series of short video tutorials hosted by Ian, one of our professional bakers from Tesco Extra Bedworth. Depending on the topic of that week’s Bake Off episode, Ian would guide viewers with step-by-step tutorials on how to perfect their icing, how to make a crème filling or how to lay marzipan without creases.

Even the sweet-toothed but time-poor could benefit from Tesco’s tips. We got into a rhythm of delivering a ‘Bake it… or fake it’ construct, which we always managed to turn around within hours (and often minutes) of a recipe appearing on the show.

Static posts, GIFs and even tactical print ads would show people how they could recreate the previous night’s bake – to "Bake it", or, if they wished, to "Fake it" by simply buying suitable products from Tesco and claiming them as their own.

Our connection with Bake Off was further cemented by running the #BakeOn promoted Twitter trend on the day of the final, providing fans with further useful baking helps. In this way, we were able to be present in the flurry of conversation we knew would happen in the run-up to the evening’s show.

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