TikTok And Netflix Are Cooking Up An Interesting New Strategy With TV Advertising On The Great British Bake Off

Eufemia Didonato

(Don’t panic, US readers, this is a no-spoiler review of #GBBO, I promise!) The UK ground to a halt yesterday evening at around 8pm local time. Not to listen to our Prime Minister confirming new Covid-19 lockdown measures (sorry, Boris), but rather to welcome a bright spot among the increasing […]

(Don’t panic, US readers, this is a no-spoiler review of #GBBO, I promise!)

The UK ground to a halt yesterday evening at around 8pm local time. Not to listen to our Prime Minister confirming new Covid-19 lockdown measures (sorry, Boris), but rather to welcome a bright spot among the increasing doom and gloom of #2020 – The Great British Bake Off (or #GBBO to its friends) which returned to traditional and internet-connected devices yesterday.

As families and friends gathered around their TVs, laptops and tablets to view this year’s contestants, most also seemed to be dual-screening on their smartphones, producing continual – and often hilarious – commentary on social media.

The heat on #bakeoff comments was then turned up during the ads (sorry, last baking pun – actually, there probably will be more) when among some notable turns by the incredible Matt Lucas and some very mixed reaction to the various advertisers, we UK viewers also witnessed ads for both TikTok and Netflix in the first ad break. Interesting strategy, but what is going on, and what exactly are they cooking up with this approach?

Technology companies … on TV?

Technology and digital companies advertising on TV is, of course, nothing new – for example check out companies such as Apple’s TV advertising history – starting with its ‘1984’, an American television commercial which first introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer.

From the likes of Facebook and its “Here Together” ad to Google using the ever amazing Icona Pop song ‘I Love It’ in its 2019 “Make the most of summer” campaign (wow! That feels like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? Insert your #ihate2020 hashtag of choice) tech companies have relied on this influential channel for sometime now – and clearly continue to see it as key to their plans.

Cutting to the modern day and what we saw yesterday on GBBO, new brands such as TikTok are now carrying this tradition into 2020, with TikTok launching its biggest-ever global ad campaign in the U.S. in August using the tagline “It Starts on TikTok” which highlights more than 30 creators on the platform running across social, digital media, out-of-home and, as we saw, linear TV.

TV? I thought it was all about digital ads now?

A lot of coverage has been given to debates on media spend during Covid-19 – with the likes of Goldman Sachs saying ad shift from TV to digital will speed up even more because of coronavirus., because ads can be more targeted and their impact can be better measured on digital platforms.

This line of thinking is also emphasised in a report by Distilled on the ‘Future of TV advertising and the golden age of digital’ which predicts $14-25 billion a year moving from traditional linear TV advertising over the next five years and therefore being “up for grabs by digital”. Most pertinently perhaps, the report suggests linear TV will begin to form a smaller part of the “attention mix” as the advertising market becomes increasingly “real-time, market-priced and algorithmic”.

According to Adobe’s 2020 Streaming Video Report and The Observer newspapers review of its outputs, consumers are now more likely to select a streaming service as their first TV option than live TV, with younger viewers flocking toward streaming, and crucially also older audiences are migrating as well.

What should CMOs be taking out of TikTok’s and Netflix’s TV ad strategy?

At the start of 2020 CMOs already faced the tough challenge of deciding where – and in what channels – to place ads. Covid-19 has now made this choice close to impossible, and this is just the beginning. As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, this will, of course, see CMOs’ media spend further fragmented across the growing number of influential platforms and media formats. So what is the recipe for future success (last pun, honest)?

The icing on the cake to this article (sorry…) is, as with many things, there is still a reason global tech/digital companies are using TV to advertise right now in this hyper-connected world of ours – the ‘right’ properties are still getting cut-through, and well-chosen ones such as the lovely escapism offered by the new series of The Great British Bake Off clearly presented a great opportunity for eyeballs all over UK. As we just discussed, this show also most likely benefits from its wide appeal, as emphasised by the wide range of views on social about it. It has that cut-through that brands seek.

Of course, I know most CMOs reading this are not in the enviable place of budget availability that the likes of TikTok, Netflix and others who used the slots such as IKEA, enjoy. You need to be careful with every single penny. For this reason, digital advertising with its targeting ability and clearer line of sight on ROI remains an obvious play for you – the key is not to do it without thought and continual measurement either of course.

So what next for CMOs?

Regardless of your channel or media, don’t blindly throw money away on digital (or TV for that matter!) just because this is the direction of travel highlighted in the reports mentioned. As with any communications campaign, you still need an outstanding creative, content appropriate to the context of how users interact with the channel it is on, and to be bold. You won’t always get it right, but these are desperate times, so now is the time to try. You need to react to market pressure – people will absolutely not find your brand if you don’t shout about it everywhere that makes sense (and hey, maybe try something that you don’t usually, and see what happens – like TV!).

If the prospect of TV advertising investment is normally daunting, do not automatically think this door is closed to you if your budget does not typically stretch.

Crudely, while every business needs to generate revenue and profits, now is great time to do a deal in a variety of media. If you have a brand, with a great product or service, a nice compelling piece of creative, and potentially something positive to say in these dark times that will resonate with a wider community, then try to at least reach out to TV partners – both linear and streaming, to media agencies who handle their inventories, DM key people on LinkedIn – whatever you need to do right now to see if you can land a deal to help you compete. Don’t stop there – what other formats and locations might work?

Be creative, proactive and authentic in what you do, and consider aligning to other positive brands and content wherever possible. In short, you can’t hesitate now – this is a fight for survival, so try every avenue open to you and you just might be surprised with what you achieve.

In the meantime, I said no spoilers … but OMG what a first episode of #GBBO that was!

I’ll keep writing about it in the coming months, and I hope you enjoyed it – or will be enjoying it soon!

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