It’s been a long, hot summer in one very famous tent deep in the heart of Berkshire. The fridges were stocked and the oven gloves firmly on as a group of 12 amateur bakers whisked, glazed and kneaded their way in proving their sweet and savoury skills.


The BAFTA award-winning series, The Great British Bake Off, returned to our screens for its 5th series this August, and with it arrived a fridge-load of controversy and commentary (who can forget #bingate?), highlighted by social media activity.

Lucky for social media marketers, GBBO lends itself as naturally to Twitter as a custard cream does to a cuppa. With so much to comment upon, it’s no wonder the show sparks such debate and analysis among fans, but more interestingly so, among brands who use the series to market to audiences in real-time, also known as newsjacking. Real-time marketing and newsjacking are ways of piggybacking on current news to interject an opinion or statement that is relevant to a brand, with the aim to create something that is clever, topical and engaging.

Cast your mind back to when Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup, spurring a handful of well-known brands to post their own comical spin on the incident – a classic example of real-time marketing.


So, with an astonishing 12.3 million viewers glued to their sofas last night to watch Nancy Birtwhistle crowned the nation’s baking champion, the scope for brands to discuss GBBO on social media was huge. The volume of tweets from the final weighed in at 106,457, with a peak of 5,711 tweets per minute and the hashtags #GBBOfinal, #Nancy and #BakeOff all trending.

Throughout this year’s series, social media activity has been buzzing with donut debates and pastry chat, with brands seizing the opportunity to join in the conversation. For obvious reasons, the main brands with scope to legitimately get involved with the baking discourse are kitchen appliance manufacturers and food companies, enabling them to neatly fit their products or services into cleverly-crafted posts.

See below for some of last night’s showstopper tweets from brands jumping on the baked goods bandwagon:




As marketing to audiences in real-time can prove tenser than a technical challenge, brands have had to think quickly and carefully so as to effectively incorporate their products or services seamlessly into pre-existing conversations. Though this may appear disingenuous and completely out of place on occasion, there are many brands out there that understand the importance of taking a news story and appropriately linking it to their own brand ethos. Brands which seem to make real-time marketing their signature bake and part of their core content offering include Paddy Power, chirping into all the hot topics on Twitter with its own cheeky take. Likewise, Oreo’s reputation as the real-time marketing king with its legendary tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, made such an impression it was retweeted 10,000 times in one hour alone.


So, as the last of the cake crumbs get brushed off and the dishwashing piles up, what can we take away from brands interacting with the GBBO final? When it comes to real-time marketing, it’s preferable for brands to find a story with which they can naturally click. This gives them legitimacy and credibility on the subject being discussed. Particular emphasis should also be placed on visual assets, and for brands with access to a creative design studio, a world of possibilities can suddenly open up.

Most importantly, picking the story wisely is key. Though #GBBOfinal would at first appear fun and accessible to all brands, it doesn’t necessarily make it the right conversation to join. Real-time marketing is a brand’s chance to shine to a ready-made forum of people, giving them something to remember and (hopefully) retweet. But above all else, whatever the story and however a brand chooses to participate, it must be executed with creativity and confidence. Nobody likes a tweet that’s half-baked.