Love Island: Are You Grafting After It?

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Posted by Christina

Love Island UK season 11 launched June 3rd, the OG of the many spin offs in various locations and despite the USA’s very own season set to launch not far behind on June 11th, American’s are hungrily searching for where they can watch the UK series.

Love Island Supporting Photo

Aside from live sports, Love Island is one of the few linear TV programs (like The Bachelor in the US) consistently bringing people back to live TV (as well as on demand via BVOD/catch-up) in a cultural moment whereby a nation’s attention is collectively captured all at once.

So, are you leveraging these cultural moments to your advantage? And are you considering programming across the pond which has your target customers engaged when building your marketing strategies?

Love Island: Taking over your Summer

If you’re unfamiliar with the format of the reality TV show, essentially a group of singles enter a villa in a sunny destination in the hopes of finding love over the course of the next two months. During this time, they will typically be coupled up with someone either chosen via the public, or by themselves in a “re-coupling” around the infamous fire pit. As the contestants are voted out of the villa (via public vote or by their peers), the series concludes with one winning couple who are awarded a cash prize (as well as a variety of brand deals). It also airs at the same time, 6 days a week!

What’s the attraction?

Attractive people – stereotypical “my type on paper” contestants in swimwear for the majority of programming, and recently, known former reality TV stars or influencers/known public figures. Fashion inspiration (“as seen on Love Island” often displayed on fashion retailer websites to boost sales when spotted) and all the drama and entertainment you’d expect from reality TV. Not forgetting the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) because everyone around you at work, school, college etc…is talking about it (that’s how it hooked me in originally).

Love Island Supporting Photo

Photo credit: freestocks

Whatever your actual ‘love language’, Love Island has its own

There are some iconic phrases you can expect to hear in every series and see trending on socials whilst the show is live, all of which you take advantage of leveraging into your marketing campaigns and copy whilst the show is live and trending. Allow me to translate:

Common phrases (which aren’t immediately obvious)

  • “My type on paper” – Essentially what it says, someone who ‘ticks all the boxes’ in what you’re looking for in a partner.
  • “Eggs in one basket” – Focusing on one person vs. getting to know a group of people/keeping your options open.
  • “Grafting” – Working hard for someone’s attention/affection.
  • “Lay it on factor 50” – when you lay it on thick. You couldn’t make it more obvious you’re interested/attracted to someone (often used if someone is coming on too strong or needs to show they’re keen).
  • “…the ick” – A major turn off, something that makes you find someone less/no longer attractive.
  • “Head turned” – Someone has caught your eye, usually used when it’s someone other than your partner.
  • “Bombshell” – someone brought into the villa to purposefully turn heads.
  • “It is what it is” extended version “…’til it ain’t” – Usually used when there’s nothing left to say or challenge.

However, every season sees its very own phrases from contestants (which the public latch onto) quoted and going viral. You’ll see these in hashtags and memes all over social, the news and even merch via retailers who have invested in the Love Island brand licensing deals. Infamous phrases such as “I’m loyal babe”, “do bits society” (consider this an alternative to US “baseball” analogies), “fanny flutters” (again…this is a different body part in the UK), plus some others we probably shouldn’t write here.

Source: CBS Love Island USA Giphy

Now you’re familiar with the premise of the show and how it engages people, why and how should you be taking advantage of this?

Viewer’s heads get turned to social in a dual-screening experience

Love Island sparks social conversation and engagement, online and offline. So much so, that viewer’s watching often dual-screen switching between their mobiles (and scrolling social media) and the TV screen. It was this insight that drove the eBay Pre-loved campaign partnership with ITV’s Love Island, “a campaign that saw searches for eBay’s key product category jump by over 1,400%.” Why did this work so well? It leveraged a cultural viewing moment with significant influence over people’s behaviour, purchases and engagement whilst being a solution to sustainability concerns within the fashion industry (a growing interest amongst Gen Z audiences in particular (we’ll refrain from using that terminology much as there’s a lot of cross-generational behaviour amongst most people irrespective of when you were born).

It's not just fashion Love Island has been known to influence an increase in sales for (previous partnerships with the likes of Pretty Little Thing, I Saw It First and Missguided prior to eBay) but also travel (hence regular sponsor Jet2) and beauty (sponsors being Beauty Works, Boots (a Walgreens Alliance company), Dyson and more).

Jumping on Love Island

Driving cut-through amongst the show and its sponsors can be an expensive depending on the approach you take, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage cultural moments such as this to your advantage cost-efficiently, especially in the US as competition is likely to be lower than in UK where the show originated. With millions of posts and followers across Instagram, TikTok, X and YouTube, incorporating inspiration from Love Island into your social strategies offers potential.

Things you can consider:

Campaign activation scheduling and relevancy of product promotion

  • Plan campaign activations surrounding the program air dates, particularly for organic and paid social. Search interest typically peaks 1 week in the lead up to the show. You then have conversation and social engagement to leverage over a 2-month period. You can even consider scheduling your ads surrounding the show as opposed to running all day (depending on your advertising budget).

Love Island Supporting Screenshot

Love Island Supporting Screenshot

Source: Google Trends

Be selective with what you promote.

  • If you’re a fashion retailer, prioritize product categories which match the show’s format such as bathing suits, workout clothes and outfits for a night out. You probably have the largest category you can show case as you can also include Summer accessories and footwear.
  • If you’re a dentist (stay with me here), opting to focus on your teeth whitening and cosmetic treatments, will likely drive a higher engagement than your everyday dental health check and treatment offering.
  • Aesthetics – this industry saw an increase in interest and procedures, becoming less taboo following the rise of the show, even for people not directly linked to the show. It’s something which has become far more accessible, so just activating around moments of influence and seasonality aligning (many people who indulge in cosmetic enhancements tend to book top ups/procedures prior to a vacation) can help strengthen performance. Also, taking an alternate approach to most of your competitors by perhaps focusing on SPF products and sun protection or acne treatments, could differentiate you vs. pushing the obvious botox and filler treatments (something to consider).
  • Fitness brands can promote non-gym/holiday workout plans for health and wellness. Quick programs which don’t eat too much into your vacation time and require minimal to zero equipment.
  • Travel – promoting the destination the show is hosted at if this is one you offer (e.g. Winter UK Love Island is filmed in South Africa whilst Summer Love Island is in Mallorca) as reportedly these have seen increased interest and bookings following the airing of the show. Also, pushing villa/condo rentals which have ‘Love Island’ villa or hideaway vibes, will likely capture attention.
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Review your targeting and placement options

Opt for social platforms Love Island conversation is highly active on such as Instagram, TikTok and X (X also allows you add targeting via TV shows and trending topics of conversation).

Love Island Supporting Screenshot
Source: Screenshot Instagram Explore

For other digitally led paid media advertising such as display and CTV, consider partnering with providers that can build cookieless targeting solutions surrounding automated content recognition e.g. people who have watched Love Island, engaged with online content featuring pictures/videos from the show, to reach people you know are engaged with this show.

Be playful and reactive with your content

Part of the charm of social media is 1) content doesn’t have to be perfectly polished like it does for print and TV and 2) it can launch almost instantly. Obviously be mindful of trademarks, so steer clear of using ‘Love Island’ directly in ad copy, or ITVs two other trademark registered phrases “I’ve got a text” and “keeping my options open” …but the rest, you can have some fun with.

Source: Photo by Lina Verovaya on Unsplash

If Love Island is a program your target audience resonates with, test incorporating some of the famous and newly trending phrases into your copy. Some examples for campaign strategies:

  • "Lay it on factor 50"…"She/He laid it on factor 50" promoting SPF sun protection
  • “Best travel accommodation guaranteed not to give you the ‘ick” to showcase your best properties/resorts
  • “Introducing our new bombshell turning heads” to introduce a new product/treatment/exercise
  • “It is what it is…’til it ain’t” to perhaps promote natural ingredients within wellness/health products and raise awareness of harmful, modified products.
  • Or if you happen to have access to a firepit, have some fun filming some dumping and re-coupling analogies.

Whether you do this organically or within social paid ads, being reactive to trending moments, contestants and things said on the show is also worth considering. Sometimes the best ideas are spur of the moment but just so relevant and well-timed, no amount of planning could predict “TV Gold” for you to turn into social currency (ummm…remember Oreo’s Superbowl blackout tweet/X post?). It can even be as simple as just being part of the conversation, using trending sounds on TikTok to react to moments happening on the program which you can reference, plus use in hashtags and memes.

Until then, my 9pm’s are booked for the foreseeable (I can’t break the habit of watching in the evenings, even though I’m behind given I’m in LA) #LoyalBabe, and I might need to make some space for Love Island USA too.