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Advertising with Love Island

Some quality trash TV that seems to be sweeping the nation is Love Island. I feel with every returning season, the show just seems to be slipping even more into conversations I have with my friends. Another place where I see it popping up more is on TV advertisements. I also see companies partnering up with the show or contestants to advertise their products. After all this bombardment, I eventually caved and watched it. I am not a reality TV reviewer by any means, however, I would say it is fun. With the show's massive popularity, it only seems appropriate for brands to make the most of the show’s success. Past contestants have been used increasingly more in advertisements. So I will discuss whether I think it is successful to partner with the ITV show.

The show is on 6 hours of the week and the fans are very loyal. The show is also easy to digest for all audiences, making the reach larger. For example on the episodes of the 2019 season, we have long shots taken of the contestants using VO5 hair products on their hair when getting ready. Blandine Langloy, the hair director at brand owner Unilever UK, said ‘Love Island has stolen our hearts and rapidly become one of the most talked-about cultural moments of the year with a highly engaged audience. With VO5’s emphasis on easy hairstyling, we’re delighted to be joining the conversation and spreading the word about the brand’s latest launch amongst consumers.’ The PR and digital media campaign were launched on 3rd June and cost £2.6 million.

The show is famously known for its annoyingly long ad breaks. The Guardian quote that Love Island made ITV, £12 million before the first episode of the new series even aired. Superdrug partnered up with the show with the goal of ​’ cementing themselves as the go-to destination for 16-34s, whilst increasing awareness of their own brand offering.’ As an article from Ingenuity quoted the brand saw an increase in website traffic, after every episode they got 200k more site visits. Alongside this, they also saw a 900% increase in searches for Superdrug related products. 

Another brand that has done a really interesting campaign with their products on the show is Misguided. Consumers are able to watch the show and then go to Misguided website and buy the clothes their favourite contestants are wearing. I Saw It First and ASOS also are featured on the contestants. The brands give the contestants a certain amount of money to purchase 8 weeks worth of items to wear while they are on the show to promote their brand. 

For this year 2021 season of Love Island the lead sponsor, Just Eat, have adverts that feature animatronic animals that are more interested in food than love. The adverts are comedic and feature British rappers and were created by McCann London. Narrated by Ian Sterling the show lead presenter. This lucrative position for endorsement is expensive with each ad on ITV costing, £100,000 according to ITV. This season sees more sponsors like Boots, JD Sports, WKD, Tinder. Matt Bushby, Just Eat's UK marketing director, said ‘Love Island is finally here and Just Eat is set to help fans get stuck in. As the food-delivery sector continues to mature, it's increasingly important to remain culturally relevant, converting our strong brand awareness into consideration and preference.’

Now, what could be wrong with partnering up with such a powerhouse of a show? Well, the show over years has been riddled with controversies. The brand has been accused of promoting unhealthy body standards. In none of the 6 years of airing has the show featured a ‘plus-size’ contestant. Just a short look on Twitter displays national controversy and discussion debating whether the show is ‘fatphobic’. One user on Twitter expressed upset and concern, saying ‘i’ve noticed my thoughts getting a bit darker re: body positivity whilst watching #LoveIsland

'Really wish they’d diversify the body types. sick of this fatphobic society :-(‘ 

There has been controversy about slut-shaming, Zara Holland was stripped of her Miss GB title by pageant bosses after she and Alex Bowen had sex in the hideaway. They claimed she was not a “positive role model” and “did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title” because of her actions. Also during the 2017 season of the show, half of Ofcom’s complaints were due to viewers expressing distaste at the amount of smoking taking place. A ban was then placed for later seasons. 

Also the sexism connotations around the show. The men are celebrated for infidelity, where the girls are primarily slut-shamed. Also, there are certain tasks that encourage gender stereotypes. In the 2018 season, we saw the men dressing as firemen and trying to seduce the women. The London fire brigade, got in contact with producers, claiming the show was ‘peddling stereotypes’. Steve Apt, the brigades commissioner said in a statement ‘I am extremely disappointed that the producers thought it was acceptable to conform to outdated stereotypes and repeatedly use the word ‘Fireman’. Firefighting is a job for both men and women and it’s ridiculous that 35 years after the first female firefighter joined London Fire Brigade, that people still refer to the job as a fireman. While we understand that the challenges on television programmes like Love Island are just for fun, we want to shake off these outdated stereotypes and language choices so more women consider firefighting as a career.’

A huge issue is also the premise of the show. It includes and promotes cheating, gaslighting, emotional distress. All of these characteristics of the show make it at times, difficult for brands to associate with the show. 

In conclusion, do I think the show is evil? No. It’s harmless and fun. Although at times the lines blur, and it sometimes gets a bit more personal than a reality TV show. The comedy and vulgarity of the whole premise and set-up, allows the audience to enjoy the show without being too affected. Brands that choose to align and partner with the show should do so. It has been proven to work and offers a platform similar to that of football. There are also lots of key target audiences that become easier to reach, like 16-35. I now can’t wait to see the outcome of this season!