Nestlé cooks up piping-hot content for its first online series

For 75 years, Nestlé Toll House has been providing recipes that include its products on the back of its packaging.

Now, it’s taking that digital.

For the first time in its history, the company is launching an online baking show called “Bake my Day,” created by agency J. Walter Thompson, exclusively on YouTube. Hosted by YouTube star Ashley Adams, who also co-hosts YouTube cooking show “Feast of Fiction,” the five- to seven-minute episodes appear on a dedicated cooking channel, called “Very Best Baking.”

“There is just so much happening in the digital space in terms of food,” said Amy Lawrence, Nestlé’s marketing director. The company estimates that there are more than 300,000 people turning to YouTube for cooking demos every day. Of course, a large part of those are millennials or what Lawrence calls “new bakers” who need a little extra guidance in the kitchen.

The company has released three episodes so far, with about eight more to go. Under a “Bake My Day” series title, each episode focuses on a certain item like Scotcheroos or chocolate quesadillas.

It says it has seen an average watch time of two minutes and 15 seconds and there has already been a 45 percent jump in subscriptions to the channel in the last month. The three episodes in total have just over 110,000 views.

“Our point of view is brands like Toll House can’t just talk at consumers,” said Chad Baker, creative director at J. Walter Thompson. “We wanted this series to be engaging and entertaining so it had to provide some cool context but also the information.”

But while YouTube clearly made sense for the brand because of its heavy millennial audience looking for cooking tips, the brand has consciously steered clear of Facebook video. Advertisers have said that “watch time,” a unique measure YouTube offers that focuses on how long people spend on the platform is what appeals to them. That’s despite Facebook’s massive growth — 4 billion-plus views a day — because Facebook focuses more on view counts, not watch time.

Lawrence said that only teasers are being shared on Facebook, organically — as well as on other social media accounts like Twitter or Instagram. “With the release of the series, we want to ensure we establish our YouTube channel as a resource for bakers of all ages and skill levels, so other channels drive back to our YouTube channel to view the full episodes,” she said.  “As a brand, we continue to explore the value of long-form content on Facebook, as video on the platform continues to evolve.”

“When we looked at the cooking content on YouTube, we thought about how that was so successful,” said Lawrence. “We wanted to partner with someone with an existing fan base. That’s where we identified Ashley.”

Baker added that Adams’ personality also pushed the team to focus more on long-form videos where her personality can shine through — such as in the above episode where she talks about football while wearing her team’s jersey. “We framed a lot of it around Ashley and her life,” he said.