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Love Island: is brand attachment always smart?

Love Island is, without a doubt, a TV phenomenon. Since its return four years ago, the dating series has exploded. With its popularity translating worldwide and the format rolling out to 11 countries worldwide, it’s clear to see why brands are itching for a slice of its success.

The first episode of the fifth series launched on Monday 3rd of June and managed to draw in more than 3.7 million viewers. Combined with those watching on ITV Hub, a total of 4.2 million people tuned in, up from the 2.9 million who tuned in in 2018.

These numbers equate to 18.5% of all TV viewers at that time – crucial insight for those brands interested in reaching millennials and Gen Z. Kantar Social Media Intelligence reported that Love Island was the most tweeted about show in 2018 and brands have definitely been taking notice, adapting their social media strategy to conversation around the programme.

Brand success

During the first episode, Manchester-based online fashion brand Boohoo ran a competition in every ad break on Twitter with the knowledge that everyone is active online during commercials.

Each tweet received 1.6k – 2.6k retweets, ending the night with over 10k mentions. This achieved 44.9% of mentions on the topic, whilst official fashion partner I SAW IT FIRST only received 0.1%.

Last year, Boohoo Man also had success with its social commentary in order to pull in engagement. In response to a tweet from influencer Vicky Pattison stating ‘Adam if you’d done what you’ve done to Rosie to me I would have set you on fire. You’re a sociopath. And I hope no one uses your boohoo man code when you leave the villa’, The Boohoo team acted quickly to create a discount code for its website, responding ‘Why wait until he leaves? Get 40% off today with SNAKE40’. Very savvy marketing.

This fast, reactive brand presence is perfect for engaging a loyal audience, reinforcing the belief that a real person is at the end of those 280 characters.

The show has also drawn in several multi-million-pound sponsorship deals this year. Uber Eats reportedly splashed out £5m to become the Love Island sponsor, doubling that of previous sponsor Superdrug’s £2.25m.

Other sponsors include the likes of Jet2 Holidays, offering the chance to win tickets to the final in Mallorca, Samsung as the exclusive handset provider to islanders, Lucozade as a sponsor of ‘first look content’ and Ministry of Sound returns with its Love Island CD.

Controversy

However, as with most popular trends, Love Island has drawn extreme scrutiny for its aftercare and lack of body diversity. This highlights whether association with the popular reality TV show can put brands at a greater risk of negative exposure.

A lack of body diversity has been criticised by viewers and former contestants, and Love Island creative director’s comment that the show would love as much representation as possible but “we also want them to be attracted to one another” didn’t help things. There has also been recent high profile, tragic cases of past contestants taking their own lives, and despite ITV attempting damage control with a re-think of its aftercare service, there are still many who condemn Love Island’s handling of and effect on mental health.

Platforms like Love Island provide a fantastic opportunity for brands to express their personality whilst increasing engagement with a social media-savvy audience. However, this can be a double-edged sword, when the sheer speed of conversation on social media tarnishes a brand’s reputation when controversy strikes. With growing success comes scrutiny, and although association with shows like Love Island is attractive, brands should remain wary and ensure their values remain intact and well-represented.

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