Whether you’re a lover or a hater of the reality TV phenomenon, you can’t deny that Love Island’s popularity is immense, and you’ve definitely seen it plastered all over social media. What started off as a small dating show in 2015, has grown into a world of influencers with million pound deals, a shed load of sponsors, merchandise galore and even its own range of baby beakers (I’m just as shocked by that as you are). But with COVID-19 and lockdown, arrived the dreaded news – Love Island 2020 is cancelled. Immediately all the millennials screamed (including myself, and definitely our Operations Manager Cicely) but it got me thinking, how will this affect brands and business? We know for a fact that Inthestyle and Pretty Little Thing were banking on the millions of pounds they’d make off the back of the winner, let alone the brands that are actually sponsoring the show. BBC estimates that the financial loss from the cancellation across sponsorships and product placements will be in the tens of millions of pounds.
Sponsorships & Deals
In 2019, fast food delivery giants UberEats reportedly splashed out £5m to become Love Island headline sponsor, which was double the deal that Superdrug had made the year before. Jump forward to October of 2019 and direct competitor Just Eat takes over the top spot. It hasn’t been disclosed, but if that pattern is anything to go by, it was definitely more than £5 million. It’s no surprise, after the season five finale brought in a massive four million views. The headline sponsor slot is huge, and these massive brands will no doubt take a hit with the cancellation, but it’s not just these sponsorships that make the world of Love Island so profitable.
It might sound stupid, but in a Majorcan villa for over 6 weeks, a lot of suncream is going to be used. So, in an attempt to squeeze out any money from deals they can, Love Island brought on Superdrug in 2019 (kind of a demotion from headline sponsor) as their suncream partner. What did this mean for Superdrug? Basically a LOT of product placement. So after Just Eat, there’s two companies that will take a large hit.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity to showcase your millennial fast fashion to fast fashion loving millennials – the fashion partnership. If your brand is the fashion partner, every item of clothing worn in the villa is yours. 2018 saw Missguided in this coveted slot, only to be taken over by I Saw It First in 2019. This change did come as quite a shock, as Missguided reported an increase in sales of 40% every night the show was on. It’s not been disclosed how much I Saw It First has profited off of Love Island, but it’s fair to say it’s going to be a big hit.
Post Island Brand Partnerships
Although the headline sponsor, fashion & suncream partnerships are huge deals, there are no opportunities greater than for brands to collaborate with the islanders once they’ve left the island. Miss Pap made the news last year for giving season five winner, Amber, a million pound deal. The other islanders were hardly missing out, with runner up Molly Mae winning a £500,000 deal with PLT. But it’s not just these big collab deals that are massive for brands. As soon as an islander comes out of the villa, they are immediately thrown into becoming an influencer. For years after they are bombarded with deals and that means opportunities for brands. Molly Mae is the brand ambassador for hair extension giant Beauty Works, Maura Higgins signed a six figure deal with Ann Summers and THEN became a BooHoo ambassador as well, Ovie got a deal with ASOS. The list is endless. And it doesn’t stop at collabs. Since the show, Curtis Prichard got a presenting spot on BBC show The Greatest Dancer, Maura got her own This Morning slot and half of the ex contestants have appeared on Dancing on Ice. It really is hard to keep up.
The top and bottom of it, brands (and contestants) can make an absolute fortune off the back of Love Island.
It’s not just the brands directly involved with Love Island and its contestants that will be impacted negatively by its cancellation. In 2019, Twitter reported that there were over 8 million tweets posted about Love Island during its 6 week stint. That makes it the most talked about show on Twitter that year. How does this affect other businesses? The higher the social media usage, the higher the chance of users seeing your social ads and converting. Brands like Inthestyle, who aren’t sponsors or involved in Love Island officially at all, sell thousands of products each year featuring quotes from the show, or use discount codes relating to the show. Without the Twitter storm that arrives from every episode, particularly the dramatic recoupling after Casa Amour (who can forget Georgia and Josh?!), these smaller fast fashion brands are going to miss out massively on potential brand awareness and sales opportunities.
The cancellation of a seemingly unimportant reality tv show might seem insignificant to you, but the impact that it will have across a variety of industries and companies is astounding. After summer it will be interesting to actually see the figures of how the fast fashion industry has been negatively affected, or see whether I Saw It First and other brands find other ways to make up for lost sales. Either way, there’s a lesson learned somewhere in here.