What has Love Island taught marketers? 

What has Love Island taught marketers? 

Love Island is a reality tv show where participants compete against each other in finding ‘true love’… and to win a £50,000 cash prize! With nearly 3 million views on the opening episode in 2018, it has become ITV’s most watched show ever

For the past 8 weeks the show has created a huge buzz on social media, and even if you haven’t been tuning in every night at 9pm, it is likely that you know something about what’s been happening in the villa, and who’s been “grafting”, “cracking on” or being “mugged off”. Therefore, no matter whether you love the show or hate it, it can be argued that Love Island has been a great media success. 

Below, we have gathered some key lessons that the Love Island phenomenon can teach us about social marketing. 

Producing relevant and engaging content (in real time) will pay off

Love Island is a champion of producing audience engaging content. Besides the 6 weekly hour-long episodes and the talk show style spin-off “Love Island Aftersun” airing every Sunday, ITV2 has fired up social media with Love Island themed content. While all of this may seem like a bit much, the fans are loving every second of it. The daily previews, highlights, polls and posts available on social media and on their dedicated app, are all key to bringing people back to the show daily! 

In marketing terms, engaging with your audience by posting relevant content on multiple social media platforms is a way to foster participation and conversation, as well as inform your audience of the show (and the related brands). It is important to be present in real time, as popular hashtags or organic trends for example may be difficult to predict beforehand, and may become irrelevant as the moment passes. 

Getting the commercials right - brand sponsorships

The active online conversation and the surging popularity of the show has made it easy for brands to jump on board. For Love Island, ITV has been working with a range of brands, to create specific strategic platforms to have their products or services seen. For example, Missguided has been styling the contestants, Rimmel London has created a specific make-up line and temporary tattoos, Jet2 advertises as the main travel partner and Samsung has provided the phones from which the producers send the famous texts to the islanders. Superdug has returned as the main partner of the show, and an Insider article reveals that the partnership has paid off, as the sales of bronzer, make-up and hair products have increased. More specifically, they report how the face-mask advertisements during the commercial breaks of the show have helped boost skin care sales by 10%. Besides this, other brands including Boohoo and In The Style have gotten involved by posting Love Island commentary on their social media channels.

For Love Island, the strategic partnerships can be argued to be a success as the products advertised resonate with the target audience of the show, and match their genuine interests and demands. While these opportunities have proven beneficial for the brands for the duration of the show, it is important to look at opportunities after the show ends and the contestants return home from the villa, which starts with a meet-and-greet at the O2 in London! 

Influencer marketing can create new opportunities for your brand

The Love Island contestants have become notable influencers with a huge following across their social channels. From last years contestants Chris Hughes, Amber Davies and Marcel Sommerville have been estimated to be earning over £4,000 per paid hashtag on sponsored Instagram posts, suggesting that brands are intensively competing for associations with these celebrities. Besides sponsored social media content, ex-Love Island contestant Olivia Buckland secured clothing line with MissPap while Kem Cetinay and Chris Hughes signed a record deal. 

For brands, the celebrity status of the Love Island contestants can create opportunities for paid endorsements, which can then boost brand awareness, result in new sales leads and direct sales. However, with influencer marketing, it is important to choose the right influencer, as authenticity and reliability are key qualities for a successful partnership. After all, the brand is paying for a recommendation, and needs it to be credible. 

An example of backlash from an non-credible recommendation could be the nutrition shake Instagram promotion this year’s contestant Hayley Hughes did after leaving the villa. Followers experienced the promotion as inauthentic and comments on the post included You know Hayley didn’t write it when she doesn’t even know how to spell half the words  and “God SO so CRINGE”. Therefore, to make paid recommendations work, remember to be respectful of the audience. 

Over all, with Love Island, ITV2 has proven to all of us that TV can be a platform for engagement. The show has shown us the power of social media marketing and illustrated how an engaged audience can translate to profits for the show and the associated brands. From Love Island’s social media strategy, four lessons can be learned: 

  1. Be active on your social channels
  2. Be responsive 
  3. Truly understand your audience. 
  4. Most importantly, get involved (‘crack on’)


We specialise in social media. Our services include audience and influencer insights, channel and content strategy creation, social media measurement and community management. We help our clients define what the best channels are for them to participate on and connect with their audience, and how to build and maintain the ‘best’ followers to offer them the best chance of conversion and advocacy. Learn more about how we can help you connect with your audience hello@digitalparade.com

Social Media Services