WEEK 3: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Babette Pepaj by Marisa Soto

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By UCLA X469.21 Student Marisa Soto

Marisa Soto

Marisa Soto

Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) delighted us on October 27, 2015 at UCLA’s “Best Practices in Social Media” with her #BakeSpace presentation. It was a perfect treat right before Halloween with what instructor Erik Deutsch described as, “Tasty tips and delicious advice, plus delectable insights on brand campaigns!”

Although Babette mentioned during our class break that she had back pain issues, she did not stay put. Once her presentation started she was full of energy, with no trace of her aches and pains. Her demeanor was contagious as she smiled continually and shared her passion for business and social media.


Pepaj told us a quick version of her startup and career transition story. She jokingly shared that before BakeSpace, Inc., she “directed and produced lots of reality TV shows… including some bad ones.” Her slide presentation displayed a BEFORE and NOW comparison with a “gate to hell” poster under BEFORE representing her time spent working in the TV business. The idea to start BakeSpace came to Babette after taking a baking class. She wanted to swap recipes and share her passion with other bakers online, but in 2006 there were few options. She founded BakeSpace, Inc. during the MySpace.com heyday, with the grassroots concept of a food social network and virtual recipe exchange. Over the years, BakeSpace has grown to become a multi-platform media company that connects people with common interests in cooking, baking, barbequing and all things food-related. Her company creates more than cookbooks and promotions, it creates friendships. Per Babette, “Pairing food with food people is a win-win.”


Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

Babette gave us a rundown of how brands use BakeSpace’s digital cookbook publishing, traveling conferences, live Hangouts on Google+ and startling #MovieMarketing campaign partnerships.

Her strategy of creating multiple platforms for brand marketers is brilliant! From my own marketing expertise, the more locations to promote inviting content — in this case recipes,  cookbooks, contests and sweepstakes — the more value to develop solid campaign partnerships.


What engaged me most was Babette’s entrepreneurial mindset and her career transition to do what she loves. I relate to her work passion, since I am a marketer who was part of the team that launched VOD at the rise of the Digital Age for my former employer, Time Warner Cable; my primary objective was to find creative promotions that captured audience attention.

I too resorted to many Digital contests and sweepstakes partnership campaigns, but in the cable world. Social media was one of multiple promotion tactics within each campaign. Babette’s presentation helped me realize how much I enjoyed and miss the challenges of promotion partnerships with movie studios and TV channel programmers. I loved to negotiate and get the best possible prizes, like trips around the world and thousands of dollars in cash, as the hook to entice digital cable customers to keep returning to what was new On Demand. The more they watched, the more chances they had to win, and that was the key perceived value.


The contest and sweepstakes participation entry mechanisms mentioned by Babette included likes, follows, shares, etc. We were enlightened hearing the differences between contests and sweepstakes. Contests require skill, while sweepstakes require random drawings for the chance to win. Babette explained that her usual partnership legal rules disclaimers include her as the “contest producer” so as to minimize any liability involving the brand partner.


When sharing her live stream video examples, Babette mentioned seeing a video featuring a fantastic looking McDonalds located in Japan. The point was that technology like live streaming video is making the world a very small place.

Although the class went past 10 p.m., Babette continued to welcome questions and comments. For example, a student asked for advice on what type of camera and microphone to invest in to start her video chat sessions, and Babette was happy to respond and advise. Hearing the same student say after class that Babette’s presentation was the best at our class so far, made me realize that I was not the only one who thought the same.

Babette Pepaj’s guest appearance was inspirational. I personally embrace her advice “…don’t be afraid to put your own skin in the game” and “there’s no excuse for not trying.”

In conclusion, I recommend for all to read Babette Pepaj’s story and to check out her latest promotions.

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