Why Love Island is a Showcase for a New Era of Marketing

by Toccara Baker

Posted on 07-26-2019

Maybe you love it, maybe you hate it, maybe you couldn’t care less about it – but you must have been liv­ing in com­plete iso­la­tion if you haven’t heard about Love Island. In its fifth series, the final will take place this week­end, where one lucky cou­ple will leave the ‘island’ with £50,000. But when it comes to the hit real­i­ty TV show, I’m less inter­est­ed in whether Mol­ly-Mae or Tom­my will be crowned the win­ning cou­ple, and much more inter­est­ed in the way that brands have been asso­ci­at­ing them­selves with the show and how ITV is lever­ag­ing this.

From fash­ion, through to tele­coms, com­pa­nies are clam­or­ing to tap into the show’s pop­u­lar­i­ty. From Min­istry of Sound putting togeth­er a spon­sored par­ty, send­ing in Craig David to DJ and releas­ing a sound­track, to Super­drug pro­vid­ing the offi­cial sun cream for use through­out the vil­la, all the way to Sam­sung pro­vid­ing con­tes­tant phones. Uber Eats has includ­ed show hosts Car­o­line Flack and Ian Stir­ling in their TV spon­sor­ship (which is said to be the most mon­ey paid for a sin­gle pro­gramme not run on a flag­ship chan­nel) and VO5 has become the show’s hair part­ner. And this is only a hand­ful of the brands involv­ing them­selves in the show, tar­get­ing hard-to-reach 16- to 34-year-olds. Oth­ers include Lucozade, Jet2 Hol­i­days, Voxi, Sam­sung and I Saw it First.

A key com­po­nent of this spon­sor­ship and com­mer­cial involve­ment has been the use of prod­uct place­ment. A tried and test­ed mod­el, brands have been insert­ing them­selves into pop­u­lar cul­ture since Reese’s Pieces was famous­ly fea­tured in E.T., and Coca Cola cups appeared on the Amer­i­can Idol judg­ing pan­el. Con­sumers nat­u­ral­ly seek reas­sur­ance from trust­ed sources before pur­chas­ing a new prod­uct, and brands look to their favourite celebri­ties and real­i­ty TV stars to pro­vide this for them.

But in today’s dig­i­tal media land­scape, brands have the pos­si­bil­i­ty to do so much more by con­nect­ing with audi­ences in tar­get­ed and authen­tic ways.

Audi­ences today will switch off to any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from brands that isn’t rel­e­vant to them. First par­ty data is becom­ing an impor­tant lever to bet­ter under­stand­ing con­sumers, and data ana­lyt­ics tools are help­ing mar­keters become more strate­gic in the part­ner­ships they pur­sue. On the one hand, it’s eas­i­er to under­stand the audi­ence tun­ing into Love Island, or fol­low­ing Cur­tis and Amy on Twit­ter. On the oth­er hand, mar­ket­ing automa­tion plat­forms have also made it eas­i­er for brands to under­stand their own audi­ences and ensure that all part­ner­ships line up with the needs and inter­ests of their own cus­tomers. In oth­er words, mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy has allowed brands to take a tried and true method of mar­ket­ing, and make it more effective.

At the same time, today’s media part­ner­ships ben­e­fit from an effort to embed the prod­uct more seam­less­ly into the envi­ron­ment where it’s placed. It’s a more mean­ing­ful exer­cise than insert­ing your prod­uct into a pro­gram that mil­lions of peo­ple are watch­ing, like the Reese’s Pieces and Coca Cola exam­ples from decades ear­li­er. Nowa­days it’s about plac­ing the prod­uct in a rel­e­vant envi­ron­ment, in a way that res­onates. Brands don’t just want to part­ner with Love Island because it’s pop­u­lar, brands want to part­ner with the pro­gram because it rep­re­sents some­thing to the hard-to-reach 16- to 34-year-olds that tune in. They know this is the tar­get audi­ence they need to reach because the data tells them so, and they want their prod­ucts to be asso­ci­at­ed with the lifestyle that engages this group so strongly.

What’s more, mar­ket­ing automa­tion plat­forms allow brands to embed paid part­ner­ships into inte­grat­ed cam­paigns, help­ing them make the most out of their invest­ment. For exam­ple, a Love Island star might wear a par­tic­u­lar cloth­ing brand on the show, which would also fea­ture in a shop­pable Insta­gram post from a pop­u­lar influ­encer, or a link in the brand’s e‑newsletter. These planned fol­low-up activ­i­ties dri­ve peo­ple fur­ther down the fun­nel beyond the orig­i­nal inter­est, to actu­al­ly com­plete the purchase.

It’s not just media part­ner­ships that ben­e­fit from this more strate­gic, intel­li­gent approach. It’s what we call per­son­alised mar­ket­ing, and it’s also help­ing brands reach the right audi­ence through tar­get­ed dis­play adver­tis­ing, dynam­ic con­tent on their com­pa­ny web­site, and per­son­alised direct cam­paigns. These new and diverse ways of reach­ing audi­ences are help­ing brands sup­ple­ment their spend on tra­di­tion­al media – like tele­vi­sion ads – with more tar­get­ed and dynam­ic for­mats. There’s no need to can­cel your tra­di­tion­al paid media activ­i­ties just yet, but don’t under­es­ti­mate the brand­ing chops of your favourite Love Island con­tes­tant either.

Topics: Advertising, media partnerships, personalisation, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA