National Cupcake Week came to a sweet conclusion on Sunday, with British Baker having whipped up the UK into a frosting frenzy. The idea behind the launch of the week last year was to support the trade by driving footfall into bakeries. We did this with a media and PR campaign, with the backing of our sponsors Renshaw and Chevler and supporters BFP Wholesale and Robert Dyas. This year, the cupcake craze reached new heights; for the first two days, ’National Cupcake Week’ was one of the most popular subjects on social media site Twitter in the UK, according to its Trending league table.
Interest snowballed and, before long, everyone from Danni Minogue to former first lady Sarah Brown was tweeting about it. In fact, it was the second most talked-about topic on Twitter for two days running no mean achievement in a week where such watercooler events as the Pope’s visit, Barbara Windsor’s Eastenders exit and George Michael’s imprisonment were getting as much coverage as a meat dress on Lady Gaga.
So how did a humble bakery product become one of the most talked-about subjects in the UK? This was the culmination of a five-month build-up, which began with the launch of our second-ever National Cupcake-off, to find Britain’s best cupcake baker. The eco-boutique Hotel Rafayel played host to the August cake judging event, which attracted nearly three times as many entries as last year from professional cupcake bakers. David Bennett of The Sunshine Bakery in North Allerton, Leeds, scooped the title with his banana and mango cupcake.
The power of social media meant that, before long, major publications got in on the act, from BBC Good Food to consumer watchdog Which? (no, they actually liked it!), The Guardian and incredibly enough The Spectator.
An army of over 200 bakers joined in the campaign, attracting coverage in national papers, and on TV and radio, including the BBC, BBC Radio 4 and Manchester, ITV, Radio Aire and Galaxy Radio even a blog from the Washington Post in the USA. The regional press went to town with stories in Manchester Evening Post, Liverpool Echo, Bath Chronicle, Newcastle Journal, Shields Gazette, Portsmouth News, Yorkshire Evening Post, The Northern Echo, Northants Chronicle & Echo, Urban Life Manchester, Notts Evening Post, Ormskirk Advertiser, Hampstead & Highgate Express.
TV channel Food Network joined in the fun as a media partner, giving National Cupcake Week an on-screen and online presence, with two weeks of on-air promotions to drive awareness every half hour. The channel also staged a cupcake art installation event in the Westfield Centre, with 5,000 cupcakes making up a giant image of Olympic boxer James DeGale.
With our Facebook and Twitter followership ballooning, hundreds of active blogs posted cupcake-related stories and recipes. Even non-bakers got in on the act, helping to drive awareness of the week. The event was supported on the high street by homewares retailer Robert Dyas, which ran a TV ad campaign during the week to promote its JML giant cupcake mould. Other retailers that took part in the campaign included Hobbycraft and Interflora. Waitrose, Asda, Tesco, M&S, Bart Spices, Ryland Peters & Small, Urban Coffee Company, Lurpak, Breville and Peros.
The cupcake craze shows no signs of slowing and we look ahead to making the event bigger and better on 12-18 September 2011!
Lighting the Twitter touchpaper
The first person to mention @CupcakeWeek on Monday morning was MarketingGeni, which offered prizes to businesses with the best answers to the question: "Why does your workplace deserve to win a box of cupcakes?" Many other cupcakers followed suit with launches, prizes and offers including:
- Food Network UK hosted a consumer competition that attracted 13,000 entries.
- Coffee Republic launched a signature cupcake, with proceeds going to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
- The Cake Nest in High Peak, the Peak District ran a Facebook competition to win a baking kit and did a ’cupcake of the day’ every day.
- www.cupcakestogo.co.uk ran a 10% discount all week to celebrate National Cupcake Week.
- Baker Rebecca Campbell used National Cupcake Week as an opportunity to launch her bakery, Shut Yer Cakehole, in Nottingham, offering vegan, egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free cakes, puddings and cookies.
- Master bakers Kindreds Bakery in Herne Hill ran a week-long ice cream theme for its cupcakes, from cookie dough to mint choc chip.
- Ella’s Bakehouse ran daily lucky dips to celebrate National Cupcake Week.
- Leakers Bakery in Bridport made hat-themed cupcakes to tie in with a local hat festival.
- Meningitis UK launched a new fundraising event called Time 4 Tea to coincide with National Cupcake Week.
- Alice Rose Cakes & Cookies launched cupcake canapés a bite-sized cupcake that is completely edible, even including the case.
- Scarlet Bakery had a waiting list, including London Fashion Week and the Pope!