By UCLA X425 Student Fernanda Schmid
A conversation with Babette Pepaj, the mind behind Bakespace.com.
David Ogilvy, “The Father of Advertising,” once said “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement, and the more it looks like editorial, the more readers stop, look and read.” Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) truly understands that concept. By creating the website BakeSpace.com and its byproduct, the Cookbook Cafe do-it-yourself publishing app, Babette created much more than a recipe website. She created a community. A community of cooking fans; a community of consumers. More than the recipes, the community is her product. That is what she sells to brands. Her website became an advertising medium, but one that consumers don’t skip. Actually, it is just the opposite. Her readers want to engage with her, with the content, and with the brands. As her signature states, they “Come for the food”, but they “stay for the conversation.”
UCLAx425 recently had the opportunity to have Babette as a guest speaker. And by listening to her stories, one can totally understand why she is such a success. Babette is authentic and very charismatic. After half an hour of conversation, you feel like you’re talking to an old friend. And who wouldn’t want to get the best cooking tips from a live conversation with an old friend? Her Google Hangouts broadcast with co-host Rene Lynch feels like you’re just there, chatting with them! And as Babette said, using this tool she can actually interact not only with her guests, but also with the public through hashtag #kitchenparty on Twitter. How about that for interaction with your brand?
Through the BakeSpace website, Cookbook Café app and other platforms, Babette creates branded profiles, cookbooks, newsletters videos, hangouts and contests. Some of her clients are Chobani (the best-selling yogurt brand in the US) and Sabra (PepsiCo’s Middle Eastern-style food products). But her brand partner cases go beyond the cooking world.
Babette also creates marketing campaigns for movies and TV shows by leveraging BakeSpace and Cookbook Café to create ads that don’t look or feel like ads. She gives kitchen tips from “Desperate Housewives” characters, creates recipe contests for movies like “It’s Complicated” and shows like “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and has even published recipes told in the voice of the Daniel Day Lewis character in “There Will be Blood.”
Babette’s website also holds big contests for big brands such as Kitchen Aid, for which she created the “Appliance a Day Giveaway.” Members of the BakeSpace community were invited and rewarded for uploading recipes and inviting friends to join the site.
Finally, Babette has applied her creativity for social good. She used her Cookbook Café publishing platform to create “The Social Cookbook” – which featured recipes from social media stars such as Brian Solis and Liz Strauss. The goal of the cookbook, which can be downloaded as both a web-based ebook and iPad app, is to help the organization Invisible People, a non-profit that fights poverty and homelessness through social media.
By creating advertisements that look and feel like useful content, Babette gets the consumer’s attention focused on a brand, product or social cause. Quite a case study for the well-known quote by David Ogilvy.