The Muppets and biscuit tins - a snapshot of the Royal Baby story

Royal baby: The Sun's tactical ad congratulating the royal couple
Royal baby: The Sun's tactical ad congratulating the royal couple

The recent Royal christening capped off what is likely to be the last spike of activity around the Royal Baby - and with it the final opportunity for brands to use the royals to plant themselves firmly in front of a captivated, patriotic audience and further up our timelines.

From the moment Kate went into labour, to the christening of Prince George, Smarts has been applying a methodology to Twitter data that allows us to see the most influential sources and sharers of news around any keyword or hashtag.

The big one was, of course, the birth, or #royalbaby. Not since Kate and William’s wedding in 2011 had brands attempted to join in on a huge online conversation. And it was huge – at the peak of the story, from going into labour to the baby’s name being unveiled, there were 5,000 tweets per hour.

In total, between July 23-30 there were 6,143,304 tweets using either #royalbaby [or variations of], some 1.7 million of which were from the UK. More than 2.5 million tweets came from US Twitter users, the rest were spread around multiple countries, reflecting that news around these two particular members of the royal family is of global interest.

We’ve taken a look at brands which successfully leveraged interaction during this time, news organisations which came out on top and the difference in engagement between the christening and the birth.

Successful brands

M&S, PGUK and Thornton’s were three brands that we found leveraged the royal baby hype well. Aldi, Debenhams and Oreo’s too had good exposure on Twitter. M&S hit more than 2,000 tweets and over 1 million page impressions with their hand engraved biscuit tin – a potential collector’s item [if you’re into that sort of thing].

A range of celebratory products helped link on and off line, with some consumers tweeting back pictures of the M&S Pear to the Throne limited edition soft drink.

All brands that achieved good exposure during this time hosted giveaways of some description in exchange for follow backs or retweets. No earth shatteringly new way of reaching out to people – we all like free stuff.

However, the timing and execution were critical for these brands to give away their assorted wares. The anticipation that gripped much of the country in that final week of July was palpable. Between giving birth and knowing the baby’s name the country was hungry for news. A perfect time to strike.

News organisations

Several hundred correspondents representing every news network from almost every country descended on the Lindo Wing. And as they scrambled to tell the same story in a different way, this was reflected in peaks in traffic as they all jostled for the top spot in our timelines. The Associated Press’s ‘He’s got more hair than me’ story, the BBC News ‘pictures from around the world’ and Yahoo! Prince Harry ‘ will make sure his nephew will have fun’ were early winners in the July 23-25 period, all generating multi-million page impressions on either You Tube or news website pages.

However the might of AP, BBC, Yahoo, CNN, Fox and Sky could not keep up with one particular news report. Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog’s welcome to #royalbaby was one of the most watched and tweeted pieces of coverage around the time of the birth. There were a massive 61m page impressions on the YouTube page, numbers that would make many major news networks as green as Kermit with envy.

The timing of the announcement of the birth was crucial in terms of the pick up on the other side of the Atlantic. Prince George arriving in time for the likes of Good Morning America and E! News morning shows helped this story go transatlantic very quickly.

Hello, OK and E! Online were the three biggest news organisations on Twitter, aside from Miss Piggy and Kermit, who had the most influence during the time of the birth.

Christening v birth

Running our unique methodology against the Twitter data up until last Thursday, we’ve seen a modest spike in the use of the #royalbaby, but as expected by most [and no doubt hoped by Prince William and Kate] the christening has had nowhere near the hype of the birth.

From the peak of 5,000 an hour during the time of the birth, the volume of tweets dropped to 150 per day – and stayed roughly like that for the past 90 days or so. Then, on Thursday that number shot up to 120 tweets per hour, hitting around 2,000 for the day.

The christening was always going to be the less successful sequel to the blockbuster birth in July. Less media interest is reflected in less of an appetite from the public. Most brands seem to have taken their cue from this; there has been considerably less activity. Even brands you might expect to dip their toe with a bit of interaction or giveaway – such as Mamas and Papas - only joined in the conversation, posing questions about christenings in general.

What does it mean for brands?

Integrated competitions seemed to be the order of the day – giving people the chance to interact in a variety of different ways, pinned down by the fact that we all like free stuff – seems to be the way brands leveraged the royal baby.

The simplicity of a giveaway combined with a thought-out approach to allow people to interact with a competition in different ways – particularly the switch between on and offline – has been the most effective. M&S got the timing and the tone right in this instance.

For brands it means that the media doesn’t have to be the only option, with the right mechanic across the right platforms at the right time, it doesn’t require any ‘traditional’ media.

And as some of the data here shows, number of retweets or interactions on Twitter are not necessarily always linked to those with the largest number of followers.

What’s interesting for news organisations is that they themselves are not only fighting each other for space on our phone, tablet, desktop or TV screen but they are up against trusted brands and individuals for news.

After all this we’re left wondering which news organisation is going to snap up The Muppets for the next major global news story…

Rebecca Scully is managing director at Smarts PR

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free