Love Island is the most watched show in the history of ITV2, and it’s a phenomenon among the 16-24 demographic. In an era of infinite choice and video on demand, when journalists are heralding “the death of the water cooler moment,” ITV has proven that it’s still possible to create event television. Here’s what youth marketers can learn from the summer success story.
Persistence is key
Love Island has grown in popularity for each of its four seasons so far, but the team at ITV had no idea the heights it would reach. In his keynote at YMS18 LDN, ITV’s former Controller of Marketing & Media Will Worsdell shared his experiences of growing the brand to what it is today. He said they always believed in the show’s potential, but it wasn’t until series three last year that all the elements connected and it became a runaway hit. 16-34 viewing was up 174% in 2017.
Less isn’t always more
Love Island proves that young people have an insatiable appetite for content. Eight hours of programming a week might sound like a lot, but Love Island fans are still left wanting more. Luckily, ITV is ready with plenty of extras, from video teasers and outtakes on Instagram to the new Love Island: The Morning After podcast.
One of the key points from Will’s keynote was that the show’s marketing team had to be agile in reacting to trends and talking points around the series. For example, when rap star Stormzy revealed he was a fan, ITV got him on the show the next day. They also worked quickly to create merch featuring the viral catchphrases from the island, for example they were able to get Love Island slogan t-shirts on sale in Primark within a week of the first phone call.
Love Island is a heavily sponsored show, with partners this year including Superdrug, Kellogg’s and Missguided. However, it doesn’t feel like one long ad. The brands are integrated naturally into the TV and digital content. For example, islanders are seen wearing Missguided clothes, and while they don’t explicitly talk about the brand, the items worn are advertised on Love Island’s social media after the show, giving followers the opportunity to dress like their new favourite stars.
Respect your audience
While the casual onlooker might see Love Island as the latest in a line of cheap and trashy reality TV hits, there’s an intelligence to the show which has enabled it to resonate with a wider audience. It doesn’t patronise its audience, but treats them with respect and exudes self-awareness. Love Island may be a guilty pleasure for many viewers, but its witty voiceover script and whip-smart editing are central to making it engaging, entertaining and inspiring to anyone who works in the youth market.