The warmer weather and longer days are finally here and, for TV, it means one thing: Love Island is back.
As the nation tunes in to watch a dozen twenty- and thirty-somethings in a Spanish villa attempt to find "love", ITV has been ramping up its commercial proposition with brands including Uber Eats, VO5, Samsung and Superdrug.
Last year’s finale – of the fourth series – attracted a record-breaking 4.1 million people at its peak and 3.9 million viewers on average across the show, representing an additional one million year on year. A short YouTube clip introducing the 2019 contestants published on Friday last week (31 May) already has more than one million views.
Love Island remains a popular phenomenon (particularly among hard-to-reach 16- to 34-year-olds) and ITV continues to make the most out of it on the commercial front.
"This is a cash cow for ITV and they've worked out that they can test new models to make more money instead of relying on client spot advertising [which can vary and is dependent on other factors]," Steven Ballinger, managing director for commercial at Dentsu Aegis Network, explained.
"Fair play to ITV; they are trying to find a different way to monetise successful properties. If it works, then why not? It's a bit like how the film industry does it – they monetise every single content."
However, for a format that has been pulling in record audiences, ITV needs to make sure it strikes the right balance between brands and show content. "They have said it’s going to be bigger than ever," Rachel Forde, UK chief executive of UM, said. "The challenge is that it retains a freshness and to not over-commercialise the show."
This year, ITV is working with eight brands, down from 10 last year. Uber Eats has replaced Superdrug as the title sponsor of the series and the Love Island: The Morning After podcast.
Jet2holidays returns as travel partner, Lucozade Zero is sponsoring first-look content and running a Love Island ad campaign, Ministry of Sound will again host a product placement party and soundtrack album, and Samsung will provide the phones, as it did last year, and will also be showcasing its Galaxy S10+. Superdrug’s involvement has changed to become the official sun cream partner.
Unilever’s VO5 has also signed up, becoming the show’s hair partner. As well as creating bespoke packaging, which will be sold only in Superdrug, there will be a mirror in the villa that will take images and video content of the contestants getting ready. These shots will be used across VO5's social media platforms.
Online retailer I Saw It First is replacing Missguided as fashion sponsor. It will make use of Love Island-branded ads and sponsor the style section of the app (which is used to vote for contestants). To create a point of difference from the Missguided partnership, I Saw It First will also style the outfits for dates that the islanders go on.
ITV will once again sell its extremely popular personalised Love Island water bottles – the same ones that are given to the contestants – through the app. In addition, a partnership with Polaroid means that there will be sunglasses on sale through the app this year. Separately, ITV is also selling the suitcases that are used by the islanders.
As brands increasingly enter the experience market, ITV is tapping into this trend with activations in Brighton and Liverpool, where fans can visit smaller versions of the villa and watch live screenings.
A lot of work has clearly gone into creating these commercial opportunities and, as Claire Heys, director for brand partnerships and content at ITV, explained, the broadcaster has been able to offer more than just a single package. "The nature of the show lends itself to a different commercial lens," she said. "The villa and domestic environment gives a very natural environment to work with.
"A partnership like this has an element of nearly all of [the options that brands can work with ITV]. There’s product placement, licensing, product creation, retail promotions, VOD spend, airtime spend and social. It’s a smorgasbord of media products."
Love Island returns to ITV tonight (Monday).