The Idea.

Sainsbury's wanted to sponsor the Great British Bake Off – the greatest baking show in the world while promoting foods that have nothing to do with baking. Products like soup, pasta, cod, and steak. So naturally, we turned some of them into cake and got the nation guessing. Using the ad break to create an interactive gameshow, we got viewers guessing if the TTD product on screen was cake or not cake! Apart from a single 15” and 10” at the opening and closing of the program, the majority of the media buy covered 5” spots, which bookended each commercial break. These offered the perfect opportunity to set up the round, allow enough time for sitting-room debate across the UK, a poll on Twitter and then return with our surprising answer straight away. 

To keep these idents fresh and engaging, we created over 160 spots. We worked with one of the best cake illusionists in the business to create our deceptive and perfectly crafted cakes, which were tantamount to our success as well as keeping close to the well-established Sainsbury’s brand world. Stephen Fry as VO, a white background along with their dynamic orange font, all immediately confirmed for viewers that they were in the Sainsbury’s world.


When Channel 4 offered the chance to sponsor the Great British Bake Off, it felt like the perfect chance to position the brand at the heart of British food culture. 

Given the scale of the challenge, it was evident that the creative idea would need to significantly outperform sponsorship norms to deliver the equity the brand desperately needed. 

It wasn’t enough to be liked; the sponsorship needed to be loved. Only work that moved beyond the standard realm of advertising to become an actual entertainment property would cut it.

The desire to be loved by Bake Off watchers is borne from the data. According to Thinkbox, the best-performing idents, and therefore those most likely to grow saliency, are well-liked and are perceived to fit well with the sponsorship property. 

Given that there was the need to focus on a wide range of Taste the Difference products within the sponsorship, most of which were unrelated to baking, this was going to be a challenge. 

The answer to this problem was found through a cultural insight. A growing trend was emerging on social; skilled bakers were disguising everything and anything as cake with hyper-realistic recreations. 

Creators had already found the creative technique that would allow Sainsbury’s to show any Taste the Difference product while ensuring that it would be relevant to the property. Sainsbury’s were going to disguise them as cake!

Craft & Execution.

Given GBBO is almost an annual property, with multiple different iterations of the series running across the year, ensuring an adequate number of idents so that the concept continued to surprise consumers was essential. Given the desire to showcase Taste the Difference’s expansive range, we knew we had the available product inventory to sustain, including fresh idents weekly, so the game remained surprising. 

However, we extended this further by introducing Cake and Non-Cake variants for some products, which were virtually indistinguishable from one another. Across the year, each ident placement was hand selected to ensure that the viewer experience was crafted to be as entertaining as possible. 

The Results.

When tracked against the objectives, the idents have emphatically delivered. Thinkbox identifies the key drivers for an effective sponsorship as likeability and brand fit. Channel 4 and Sainsbury’s brand tracking shows the idents are almost universally liked, with 95% of respondents claiming to enjoy the spots, a figure that increases with each burst of GBBO. Similarly, our brand fit results over index substantially. 

The idents have contributed to a massive increase of 6% in both brand awareness and consideration scores.

However, the most compelling result was the strong reaction across social media. Viewers flocked to Twitter to declare the game as one of their favourite aspects of the latest season of Bake Off, proving the value in pushing idents from advertising opportunities to forms of entertainment in their own right.


Sainsbury's - Great British Bake Off

Great British Bake Off is a cultural institution. When Sainsbury’s won the opportunity to sponsor the series, it posed an incredible challenge. How can we make a sponsorship as loved as the show itself? The solution a weekly guessing game called “Cake or Not Cake”

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