Paul Hollywood

Paul Hollywood has teamed up with Premier Foods for a range of baking mixes

News that the Great British Bake Off is moving channels has shocked the nation, or at least those who care about the twee “quintessentially BBC” programme.

Bake Off will no longer be shown on the BBC after this season and move to Channel 4 instead, after talks broke down between the BBC and programme maker Love Productions over fees.

The fallout was immediate.

The BBC released a statement saying: “GBBO is a quintessentially BBC programme. We hope Love Productions change their mind so that Bake Off can stay ad free on BBC One.”

Co-presenter Sue Perkins (who, along with Mel Giedroyc, will be leaving the show once it moves to Channel 4) urged her followers on Facebook to sign a petition to keep Bake Off with Auntie, which has so far garnered about 6,500 signatures.

While Perkins and the BBC may not be happy about GBBO’s move to Channel 4, brands will be celebrating at the thought of finally being able to advertise alongside the blockbuster show.

Big opportunities

Chief among them is likely to be Premier Foods, which has partnered with one of the show’s stars, Paul Hollywood, for a range of 12 baking mixes but hasn’t been able to fully flex its marketing muscle due to the BBC’s tough restrictions on licence fee content.

Other brands are also licking their lips. Almost 10.5 million people tuned in to the first episode of series seven in August – as long as angered fans don’t boycott the show after the channel switch, that’s a big audience for advertisers to reach.

”The key to success will come from activation initiatives that add value to the overall GBBO experience.”

Jan McKee, head of marketing, Dr Oetker

“During the show, baking becomes a national obsession and a part of the social conversation,” says Jan McKee, head of marketing at Dr Oetker. “The move to Channel 4 obviously represents a great opportunity for brands to speak to engaged consumers with much richer activation than previously possible both on-screen and off-screen. The key to success will come from activation initiatives that add value to the overall GBBO experience.”

Even without advertising now, the power of Bake Off for brands is undeniable. After the season opener this year, which saw 12 contestants all struggle to create jaffa cakes in the technical challenge, Google searches for recipes of the cake (or biscuit, if you’re so inclined) grew by a whopping 900% [Summit].

Google searches for proving drawers, meanwhile, soared 7,500%. Admittedly, baking novices may have been searching for a definition rather than buying a drawer, but the influence of the programme seems pretty clear.

Huge viewing figures

“With it almost guaranteed that the programme will play with television adverts before, during and after its air, as well as the removal of the BBC’s advertising limitations, brands will be desperate to partner with the production company to capitalise on its impressive viewing figures,” says Chris Baldwin, director of consumer programmes at employee and customer service company Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services.

 “Part of the reason that people like it at the moment is its lack of commerciality”

Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO, Savvy

However, Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO of shopper and retail marketing agency Savvy, believes something will need to change after the move to Channel 4 in order to develop the show and keep it relevant. Whether it’s a change in presenters, beloved judges Mary and Paul, or even the format of the show, that difference – jokes about boycotting aside – could change the viewing figures.

Moreover, brands will have to be careful not to destroy the show in the process of chasing advertising opportunities. “Part of the reason that people like it at the moment is its lack of commerciality,” Shuttleworth says.

So though it might be tempting to go all out on branded products and endorsements, if the show is going to remain as influential as it is, advertisers might need to restrain their Bake Off enthusiasm just a little bit.