Whether you love it or hate it since 2015 Love Island on ITV2 has well and truly become a social media phenomenon and has gained itself cult status in the short time the program has been running. (Think Blair witch cult level, but a lot sexier.)
However, fans (most likely reading this wearing a ‘100% my type on paper’ T-shirt and wondering what they’re going to do tonight at 9pm) may be surprised to discover that Love Island first graced our screens back in 2005. Think the Love Island we know and love, except swap out 12 extremely good looking ‘normal’ people for 12 extremely good looking celebrities. However the show didn’t perform and only lasted for two series before failing to measure up to Channel 4 rival, Big Brother and being axed.
So why, just over ten years later, when young people allegedly don’t watch TV anymore, has Love Island become come such a cultural phenomenon? Could the answer be as simple as social media? The hit show has become so popular that some viewers will literally cancel their evening plans they may have during the entire 8 weeks to ensure they don’t miss it…and why?
Well besides from it being ridiculously addictive albeit slightly ludicrous, you simply can’t miss it. Everywhere you look and everything you hear will be Love Island related and if somehow you do miss an episode, or are in fact even an hour late watching it, your social media pages will have to be avoided until you can catch up – which puts you at risk of not being included in the Love Island fan club, and if you’re not in the fan club, well quite frankly…
In this blog we are going to delve into how social media propels Love island from national TV show to Global TV gold and how brands are so keen to jump on the hype they will make Love Island part of their marketing strategy.
The Social Media Effect
Social media is a powerful tool, not only for growing businesses and selling products, but also in Love Island’s case for growing a brand. It doesn’t just help the TV show though, social media also ramps up the contestants following and they too reap the rewards of the Love Island effect, going in as almost a nobody and coming out as a fully fledged celebrity.
However, it’s not their sparkling personalities or ridiculously ken/Barbie doll good looks (although the latter does help) it’s the audience members who are so determined to be them or be with them that propels them into fame and the prospect of becoming an influencer becomes just too easy.
It’s because of the social media, that Love Island is now, not only an entertainment show but also a platform for wannabe influencers around the world to get the step up they need. It makes you wonder whether the people applying for the show are after love, or just the fame that comes after appearing on the show.
If you think this is all a happy coincidence though, you’d be wrong. Team Love Island and ITV2 have a very large set of skilled marketing masterminds behind them and every season, at the heart of the relentless campaign of organic online marketing is the massive audience that Love Island has the potential to reach.
The official Love Island Facebook page has over 700k followers, the Twitter 650k and the Instagram 1.4 million; even those who do not actually like the page are likely to see their posts as a result of their friends interacting with them, and the number of people following these various pages is only increasing.
Every page on every platform has a steady, on-brand stream of photos and quotes from recent and upcoming episodes, ensuring that the show is constantly being refreshed in the mind of both the regular and the prospective viewer.
Love Island has embraced social media as not just an additional communication channel but also an extension of the show itself. By incorporating popular tweets into tasks, using hash tags in texts to the islanders and showing unseen footage and sneak peaks across social channels, they’ve managed to blur the line between digital and traditional media and it seems to be a winning combination.
The Love Island app broadcasts similar content as the pages, but it has the added feature of polls for its users to participate in. The results of these are often shown at the start and end of ad breaks in the live shows, encouraging viewers to download the app and get involved themselves. They can vote for free through the app, and decide who stays and who goes, adding an interactive element that gives the viewers a sense of power that is lacking in other reality TV shows, like The Only Way is Essex (which has viewing figures significantly lower than Love Island’s).
All of that, and that’s just from the official pages…there are several spin offs that independent users have taken it upon themselves to set up and share funny memes, quotes, clips etc, just in case you didn’t have enough content showing up on your phones or computers!
Watching TV and scrolling through social media, however, aren’t mutually exclusive. Whilst a TV episode may last 30-90 minutes, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram keep the conversation going long after the episodes are over. The popularity of accounts such as ‘Love Island Reactions’Running across Facebook, Twitter & Instagram shows that there is a real appetite for entertaining opinions and observations amongst TV viewers.
We’ve briefly touched base on how Love Island can make or break someone; more often than not it makes them. How long that lasts though is down to the contestants.
It’s inevitable that each and every contestant, no matter how long they last on the show will come out of it with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of new follows on their Instagram and social channels, but the rest of it won’t come without a little, as the contestants would call it, graft.
Brands want positive influencers and influencers that are going to gain them something in return. That means you need personality, to be relatable and have longevity as a person. If you have this, the amounts of merchandise and offerings you can collaborate on is practically endless.
One of the more obscene pieces of merchandise to come out of last years series, for example is that Marcel managed to sell a book…yes a book! Others have gone down the more mainstream route with clothing deals and cosmetics collaborations in order to boost their profile. Some have had spin off TV shows, and even a short-lived music career ala Chris and Kem.
On the rare occasion you may find some contestants using the spotlight for more positive purposes. Take Camilla and Jamie from 2017’s series. Not only are they the only couple to have made it an entire year together as a couple but they both are only ever shown at premiers or charity conventions supporting various charities, which is a breath of fresh air.
Finally, last years Montana Brown has also used her status in order to try and carve out a TV presenting career, which throughout her time on the show she claimed was her dream job.
One of the most successful pairings to come from the show would be Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowan. The couple have gone from strength to strength together, and individually as brand ambassadors for several major companies. Olivia has become so successful her recent hen do was actually sponsored by Missguided. Every piece of swimwear was provided by Missguided and all Olivia had to do in return was post beautiful pictures of herself and her bridesmaids in the Mykono’s sunshine. Hard life eh.
The couples wedding will also be sponsored by a series of brands and most likely will be televised. In celeb world, that means you’ve made it. If it’s good enough for the royals it’s good enough for the Love Island couples!
Be warned though, becoming an influencer may have it’s perks if you’re successful but the minute you step on Love Island is the same minute you lose your privacy and from day one you will be scrutinised and observed by not only the UK viewing public but also brands everywhere.
So, don’t forget, you may shape Love Island, but Love Island will definitely shape you and your future. You have been warned.
Merchandise, Merchandise And More Merchandise.
With Love Island taking the world by storm it is only natural for other brands to want to jump on the hype of the show and gain followers, sales and interest off the back of it. And while it all started with the initial official sponsor of the show, Superdrug being the first brand people thought of when Love Island was mentioned, other brands have now started getting involved with promotional activities.
Primark is one of these, who after season 2 of Love Island reached it’s peak started selling clothes with the classic slogans used by the contestants such as “100% my type on paper” and “#muggy” along with various other merch.
Last years final saw, Iceland Foods, hosting a ‘#LoveIceland’ party. Instead of just jumping on a popular hashtag, they added their own relevant voice to the conversation. Responding to social media influencer, Zoella, calling for a winter edition of the show called ‘Love Iceland’, Iceland put out a series of tweets throughout the final.
Other brands sending out Love Island related tweets to boost social media engagement include, Cosmopolitan, Missguided.co.uk, Bumble and various other clothing and gossip related companies.
Some brands don’t even need to officially be affiliated with the show to increase their awareness and sales. For example, online fashion retailers such as InTheStyle and Pretty Little Thing will often see sales soar, if an item of their clothing or swimwear is worn by one of the girls on the show – this again proves the effect Love Island can have on the actual contestants is amazing, and more often than not, the girls that come out of the show will soon earn themselves deals with cosmetics or clothing brands around the world.
Previous contestants like Gabby Allen and Olivia Buckland have gone on to be extremely successful with clothing ranges and being brand ambassadors for the likes of the previously mentioned online fashion stores.
The shows popularity extends past the cosmetics and beauty industry though and for 2018, the most recent brand to gate crash Love Island’s success is none other than Kellogg’s cereals.
Yes that’s right, Kellogg’s have jumped on the bandwagon for series 3, holding a competition, where people have to take a selfie with one of their promotional packs to be in with the chance of winning a space at the live final.
With a brand as big as Kellogg’s jumping on the bandwagon, is there anyone or anywhere Love Island cannot reach?!
What Happens Next
The Paradigm of Love Island is three fold.
Before the show: Hype and numerous amounts of promotion are shared on social media and TV, to get people ready, excited and quite frankly giddy about the upcoming summer antics.
During the show: The nation is gripped by all the drama; fun and raw sexual tension between contestants, whilst the following of the show, contestants and other latched on brands grows and grows.
After the show: The nation goes into mourning, talk of the next series is imminent straight after the live final ends and the contestants become influencers, power couples (if any last the night) and if they’re lucky, brand ambassadors for some of the best brands in the UK, if not global!
There are of course several reasons why Love Island has become the global sensation it has, including the unique characters they get on the show, but we think we can all agree that the most important aspect of this, to keep the show in the limelight constantly throughout the year, even when it’s not on air, is the strong marketing and social media strategy placed behind it.
It’s safe to say, Love Island is officially one of the first shows to insert itself so fully and successfully into our nation’s digital conscious; many people who have never before succumbed to watching reality TV, find themselves hooked. This seemingly inexplicable British addiction is the result of surprisingly captivating content, combined with a social media strategy that repeatedly and relentlessly grips the country.