Love Island: How ITV Used Social To Drive Sales And Viewers To Their Hit Series



An in-depth look on what made the hit ITV2 show break social and digital records for ITV.


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At #SMWLDN ITV’s Group Director of Online Paul Kanareck, Head of Digital Entertainment Janine Smith, and Director of Commercial Brand Partnerships Claire Heys along with Love Island’s Executive Producer Tom Gould, and Love Island cast member Montana Brown discussed Love Island’s popularity and how the show has been able to channel its following into a successful brand.

Gould believes that Love Island became so popular because the show isn’t explotive and seems gentler than other reality shows. The show focused on the cast members’ relationships in a way that made the show feel authentic and relatable. Brown mentioned that cast members had no idea what was going on in the world and weren’t given information about the production, so they were given no choice but to be themselves. Gould added that Iain Stirling’s commentary making fun of the show also adds to the shows appeal.

ITV developed a 4-pronged strategy for Love Island. Smith explained that it consisted of driving viewing to the live show, supporting commercial ventures, attracting the 16-34 demographic, and making people aware of the holistic world of ITV, such as the app in addition to the TV channels. The different areas supported each other creating a unique feedback loop where the social media platforms fed back into the show, requiring the digital team to work closely with the production team and change strategy as Love Island’s brand evolved.

Gould pointed out that the daily exclusive preview on their social media accounts were a big draw and that the social media accounts thrived because the crew tried to find things that could live on social, but don’t have a place in the show. As a result, the crew found out that, contrary to prior belief, putting content on social media first doesn’t cannibalize viewing and can add to the excitement for that night’s episode. For example, the photos cast members took on their Love Island-provided phones were shared on Instagram and became the shows most popular social content.

Heys talked about getting brands to truly engage with the show and making sure those brand partnerships made sense for both parties. Both Ministry of Sound, which sponsored a party at the villa, and Superdrug, which supplied the suntan lotion and hand cream for the cast, were major sponsors and had content relevant to their brands seamlessly integrated into the show.

In addition to planned sponsorships and, even though ITV couldn’t predict Love Island’s runaway success, the network had plans in place to create Love Island merchandise and make it available quickly if the public desired it. During the 7 week run of series 3, Primark approached ITV about selling slogan t-shirts in their stores and a week later the product was in stories around the UK. Because the show was so popular, the t-shirts would be available in store within 48 hours and would sell out during the weekend.

ITV’s success with the Love Island brand was a little bit of luck, but mostly built around identifying appropriate brands to partner with and engaging with the show’s audience in real time, which forced people wanting to take part in that conversation to watch live.

Love Island By the Numbers:

  • 75 percent of all 16-25 year olds in the UK are registered on ITV Hub.
  • 1 million people watch the finale night of series 3 live on a tablet.
  • For each of its series, Love Island has doubled the pervious series ratings.
  • Sold 110,000 personalized water bottles in 4 weeks. At one point, ITV sold 7,500 thousand of them a night.
  • Sold 197,000 slogan t-shirts at Primark.
  • 280 million video views across social media
  • 5 billion Twitter impressions
  • The most Tweet about moment was when Johnny dumped Camila and snogged Tyler, which received 9,000 Tweets per minute as it was airing. That’s more than any moment during Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Further analysis and commentary from the “Love Island: How to Handle a Hit” session:


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