Why Coupling Up With Love Islanders May Not Be The W You Think

Love Island, as it does every year, has me gripped by the throat. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m a big fan! But, with about 4 weeks left to go, we’re already fast approaching the part I hate – the brand collaborations, the nightclub appearances, and the random partnerships that make absolutely no sense… 🤢

A note before we go on though: below I mention two amazing charities. I don’t want you to think I’m in any way slating them or their strategies. I think they’ve just got swept up in the Love Island mania as many of us do. Nevertheless, because I’ve included them in the blog I’ve made a donation to both of them. You can find out more information about both of them here: Sporting Mind UK & SOS Silence of Suicide.

The Love Island Effect

Because the popularity of the show has grown exponentially, so has the fame of the islanders after they leave the villa. Many of whom now, already had established social presences before and are not new to the game.

This means, many of them are open to collaborations that brands can take advantage of. And take advantage they do.

Every year you’ll see the islanders that made little impact on the screen (think: Alex, the quiet one from Love Island) still become a hit on social. It seems regardless of their fame on the show, pretty much every islander flies home to tens of thousands of new followers.

Brands, and those of us who work in Influencer Marketing, know the value of partnering with people that have big figures on their socials. Oftentimes, this can even be more effective than even radio and TV ads! However, the super savvy amongst us also know that numbers aren’t everything. And that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

Crappy Collabs Won’t Turn Heads

If I asked you to think of a dodgy ex-islander promotion, I’m sure you’d be able to name at least one. For me, it’s either a Casa Amor reject that I can’t remember the name of promoting car air freshers on their feed, or the more infamous example of Lucie Donlan posing with Piers Morgans’ new book, mere months after he publicly slated her (and the rest of the show) on Good Morning Britain.

It’s the Marmite for me

But although these are poor collaborations with little style or substance, and are unlikely to ‘make moves’, they’re not the worse thing about Love Island partnerships. Truly, I have no real issue with these kinds of influencer campaigns.

Do I think they’re effective? Not really. But I do think they’re harmless enough.

What does ‘turn heads’, but for all the wrong reasons, is when a Love Island partnership can do more harm than good. When sometimes, I’d bet a brand wished they’d never put all their eggs in one basket in the first place.

Coupling Up With Chaos

My real issue with Love Island collabs, is not when they’re untimely or irrelevant, but when islanders are put into positions of power as ambassadors when they’re not at all appropriate to be so.

Take Hugo Hammond from last year, for example. Ambassador of Sporting Mind UK, a charity dedicated to supporting “positive mental health in sport”. Last week, fellow ex-islander Sharon Gaffka said that she’d cut him off on account of ‘inappropriate touching’ and ‘jokes around getting spiked’. Naturally, Hugo denied this and really I don’t know what I believe either way. My point is, that Love Island makes good TV for one reason: drama.

This never really ceases to exist after the contestants leave our screens. There’ll always be gossip columns and interviews circulating months, even years after a season ends. It feels like an incredible risk to me for a mental health brand to be involved in such a controversial space.

Then there’s the debacle that unfolded a few weeks ago, when four ex-contestants openly mocked a fellow islander, Rachel Finni.

One of those involved was Tyler Cruickshank, who was at the time an ambassador for SOS Silence of Suicide (which has now mysteriously been removed from his bio – a consequence of his actions perhaps?). This charity claims to “hope to support people and encourage self belief and confidence”. A direct contradiction to the way Tyler acted on that now-infamous Instagram live.

The bottom line is these islanders are everyday people, thrust into the spotlight no matter how short their stint on TV. Brands are desperate to work with them knowing how popular the show is, and therefore how popular they too become by proxy. But in reality, not only do these people probably have a disproportionate amount of media training to match their fame, but they’re also probably not the best people to be promoting certain brands in the first place.

Truly magic collaborations happen when you find a creator with an active, loyal following, that works with a business or organisation because they genuinely believe in it. Not an influencer who’s sold to the highest bidder.

Brad, Tyler, Aaron and Jake – or the big bullies as I like to call them!

In both of these occasions, partnering up with a Love Islander seems to have done little to positively raise the profile of the brand. Rather shine a negative light on it when the islander messes up. If it was me, I’d rather be partnering up with an individual that’s professional as well as genuine, than chasing quick fame.

In the immortal words of Greg O’Shea:

As always, I’d love to know what you guys think? Drop me a note on Twitter or leave a comment below!

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