Love Island: how brands made the most of the summer's smash hit

Around two million people will be dealing with Love Island blues today after last night's gripping finale which saw Kem and Amber take home £50,000 between them.

Love Island: how brands made the most of the summer's smash hit

Just as audiences have flocked to the show – which peaked last night with 2.9 million viewers, beating BBC One's 2 million at the same time – brands have been quick to get in on the action.

Superdrug, the main sponsor for the second year running, is the one brand that has perhaps benefitted the most. "It suits the tone of the show, they have the right products and it feels like they belong in the environment," Mat Goff, joint chief executive at Adam & Eve/DDB, explains.

"Their sponsorship bumpers fit the mood and the tone of that show, so they feel like a decent start point every time we return to the action."

The brand’s deal to push its advertising further than traditional TV spots with product placement – its sun lotion was often left on display in the show – is also a useful way to communicate to a younger audience, Abi Morrish, head of digital engagement at MEC, says.

There has also been a huge opportunity for brands not officially involved with the show. Social media has been awash with posts about Love Island, and the contestants dumped from the show have been quick to monetise their following.

"When shows like Love Island, the Oscars or the Olympics form part of the cultural zeitgeist for audiences, the opportunity for brands is to gain relevance and integrate their messages into the cultural agenda," Anthony Svirskis, chief executive of Tribe, says. "It's cliché to say 'join the conversation' but it is true of social channels."

For many small brands social media is a low cost and "effective way of getting in front of lots of people quickly", Goff explains. The brands featured on the accounts of some of the former contestants include online fashion retailers Boohoo.com and Inthestyle.com.

However, these brands need to be fast. "There’s a quick window of opportunity where [the contestants evicted from the show] are gathering lots of followers and people are really interested in what they are doing, but I don’t think any of those individuals are long-term strategies or will become celebrities in their own right," Goff says.

"Their influence might burn quickly, but there’s a nice conveyor belt of those shows."

But – even if the partnerships are fleeting – brands should still make sure reality stars are the right fit for them. "As always, the pairing needs to feel authentic, and this is going to limit the pool of brands that should be looking for this kind of relationship," Jim Coleman, UK chief executive at We Are Social, says.

"They shouldn't just look to ride on the show's success just for the sake of it – an inauthentic influencer partnership that looks forced can be ineffective, or worse, detrimental to a brand's reputation."

Mike Clear, head of Mother Studios, explains that brands should stay true to the feel of a show like Love Island. "They shouldn’t fight the reason the show gains popularity – keep the superficial feel and you can’t go too far wrong. It is not there to cure the world’s ills, it is simply created to entertain."

If brands fail to follow this advice, "people will just see straight through it and it will fall by the wayside, or worse a la Pepsi and Kendall Jenner", warns Charlie Powell, senior business development manager at talent agency Talent Republic.

Despite the show being over, Laura Moorcraft, managing partner for ITV at Goodstuff, thinks there’s still an opportunity for Superdrug. She says: "Superdrug’s established brand association could seamlessly extend into style and beauty social videos, featuring products and techniques favoured by the show’s stars. Surely Kem’s hair stylist background and top-knot prowess could form a Superdrug video series in its own right."

Looking ahead to the next series, Steve Parker, managing director at AllTogetherNow, explains that brands should think ahead about the different ways that they can get involved. He says: "Being able to make the most of a show like Love Island requires either good forward planning to find a way to get into the show before it starts, like providing the outfits contestants wear, or the ability to be very reactive, and brand relevant, like Primark have been with their Love Island slogan t-shirts."

Lessons from Love Island’s social media strategy

By Kayley Almond, social strategist at MullenLowe Profero

1. Add value through intimacy

The show's Instagram account regularly posts snackable behind-the-scenes content from the contestants themselves. The fan's relationship with the show suddenly feels a lot more intimate when they’re seeing Snapchats and selfies from the contestants in the run-up to broadcast.

2. Create a members-only club

The unique lexicon that follows the show around, already available on t-shirts thanks to merchandising deals with Primark, acts as a membership card. It urges people to double tap whenever they see something that raises a smirk, pulling them back to their sofa every evening.

3. Keep up the pace

The show moves at such a pace that missing one of the hour-long nightly episodes leaves the viewer struggling to catch up. But what the show’s social content adds is making sure the sense that people are missing out is even more extreme since their feed is suddenly populated with a barrage of clips and reactions.

4. Shareability is time specific

Early first-looks teasing the evening's content posted each afternoon are a difficult-to-pass-up opportunity to share content with friends as people dissect what might be happening later. As with the behind-the-scenes footage these also serve as the daily reminder that people need to be sat in front of the TV (or mobile, since 30% of live viewership happens through the ITV Hub app) at 9pm sharp.

5. Make the unmissable truly unmissable

The best parts of Love Island are truly impossible to miss thanks to the clips and GIFs which appear almost instantaneously with their broadcast, both from the official channels and the grainy videos of TV screens which viewers upload unprompted.

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