Patisserie Valerie has a long heritage of lovingly creating handmade cakes, pastries and delicious food. We were honoured to be engaged to brand, design and develop a promotional microsite.

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The Challenge

The concept was simple… build brand awareness by giving visitors a fun way to invent their own unique gateau, with some great prizes up for grabs.

Patisserie Valerie has a very well established identity in the UK, however, it was agreed early on in the campaign that this should have a style of it’s own which worked in harmony with this existing brand architecture. It took some very creative thinking to come up with a unified style that had synergy with the existing brand, whilst introducing a fun, engaging aspect.

Creating character

The client also came up with the great idea of introducing a new character that would head up the campaign – ‘Madame Valerie’. We had a-lot of fun creating and evolving the illustrative style for her – which lead us to develop a complete, bespoke hand drawn identity around the whole campaign.

Branding with personality

The only real option for this project was to develop hand-drawn typography for the logo. Echoing the styles of Toulouse Lautrec and French advertising of the time, it gave the whole campaign a very strong personality and re-enforced the ‘fun’ aspect of the promotional microsite.

Our Approach

We began by visiting a number of premises to get a feel for the brand (we had to of-course sample their wonderful cakes along the way too, we take this job very seriously!)

Along with working through their style guide and in-store research, we quickly identified a strong synergy with French culture of the 1920’s. We initially developed a number of mood boards around this styleway along with conceptual sketches for the character illustration. Working closely with the client, we developed a unique, ownable illustration style that was deployed throughout the entire project.

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The Execution

A project as unique as this required a personal approach…

The client supplied all the toppings, sponges, creams and other ingredients that would be available to budding bakers – which totalled 96 separate ‘ingredient/topping’ illustrations. Each were carefully illustrated by hand, retouched and crafted to seamlessly be layered on-top of each other. This gave users thousands of fun combinations for inventing their gateau!

Technology-wise, we built this on a very bespoke WordPress stack – each ‘entry’ gateau was created as a post type with all ingredient data stored in custom fields. This allowed us to code functionality to create a clean export as a spreadsheet of all entry data for the client at the end of the competition.

Subsequent entries were created as a separate post type – so they could still be shared via social media networks, but allowed easy separation logic of actual entries (from unique email addresses) into the competition and those that were just created for fun.

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The actual gateau creator was created from scratch, driven by Javascript it was built for very high efficiency, dynamically loading and layering layers of illustrations together to visually ‘build’ the cake as options were selected. This also made it work particularly well on mobile and slower Internet connections.

Making such a bespoke interface design adapt and optimise for smaller screen devices was certainly not easy. The hand drawn nature, along with animations that triggered when actions were taken proved to be quite a challenge – but we created a beautiful layout system that perfectly adapted from the largest of desktop monitors right down to the smallest phone screens seamlessly.

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Finally, an important aspect was performance of the website – we knew that it was going to experience some pretty heavy visitor traffic peaks at times and built-in multiple layers of optimisation to ensure the site could handle anything that was thrown at it. Working in combination with a leading server provider and content delivery network the site experienced absolutely no downtime throughout the entire campaign.

The Success

The campaign was a run-away success, far exceeding the clients targets and expectations.

Over the course of the 4 weeks the campaign ran:

  • over 14,000 gateaus were created
  • over 27,000 visitors engaged with the site
  • peak website engagement in-excess of 250 visitors a minute
  • peak user engagement of 4 gateau creations per second

Although only a person’s first gateau was entered into the competition, visitors still went on to create thousands of additional gateau just for fun! 

There was a strong social media aspect to the campaign – we integrated easy ways to share each gateau on Facebook and Twitter, which gained huge traction for the brand. 100’s of tweets were made sharing a custom image and link to their gateau.

There were also some very complementary tweets about the design and fun aspects of the site – one user even re-created the gateau that they had invented and tweeted a picture (right down to the same decoration!) because it sounded so yummy – now that’s engagement!

A word from the client...

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Jonny and the Wider team. They came up with some truly innovative and creative concepts through to the finished design, it was exactly what I wanted and had imagined in my head! The competition has been a huge success, and many of our customers have commented how much they love the quirky design of the micro-site. Nothing was too much trouble and they worked around meeting the company’s needs as well as creating something truly spectacular. I would highly recommend them to anyone, and I can’t wait to work with them again in the future.”

Sophie Broomfield
Social Media Manager at Patisserie Holdings PLC

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