Love Island 2021 – Hot or Flop?

The most anticipated show of 2021 is upon us: Love Island. I’ve written numerous blogs in the past around the benefit of the hit reality show for brands and analysed the marketing masterpiece that it is. In fact, I’d go as far as to describe Love Island as an absolute masterclass on how to capitalise on that 18-34-year-old audience. That being said, this year has been a little boring. Ok, I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s been something about this year’s show that seems a little tame. Surprisingly, I’m not the only person that thinks that. 


So, let’s analyse this year’s show. Has it been the scorching drama-filled show that we’re all used to, or has it been a bit of a flop? And how has this affected brand’s marketing success? Let’s take a look. 


Pre-Launch Deals

Love Island 2021 was definitely hyped to be a summer success before it even went live. ITV earned more than £12m in revenues even before the first episode aired due to the advertiser deals. The Guardian has actually dubbed the show “the most commercialised show on British television”.

The sponsorship deal lists are extensive, to say the least. They include the likes of I Saw It First return as the headline fashion sponsor, JD as the gym and fitness sponsor, Boots as the ‘feel good’ partner, Spotify as the party and playlist sponsor, and so many more. Even smaller brands like Rewired are being pushed into the spotlight, due to JD’s activewear sponsorship deal. 


With expectations set extremely high, ITV were even able to sell 30-second advert slots for a reported £100,000. That is an absolutely eye-watering amount of money to put into a TV ad on ITV2. But, this clearly shows the pull that was expected. 


So, with this huge build-up and extensive amount of money being ploughed into the show, how did the launch go?


Launch & Response

Millions of revenue have been put into the most anticipated show of 2021, yet the premiere was watched by the smallest audience since 2017. The premiere saw average viewer numbers of just 2.47 million, down massively on 2019’s 3.3 million viewers. This figure doesn’t factor in the catch-up views, which are expected to be higher, however, it was a shock given the hype. 


Why was the audience significantly smaller than in previous years? It can be argued that it was largely due to the premiere coinciding with not only the Euro 2020 tournament but also Wimbledon. On the same night as the premiere, the Euros game between France and Switzerland peaked at 12 million viewers. The decrease in Love Island viewership was not the best news for the sponsors, but ITV had a great night scoring a huge 45% share of 16-34 TV viewing in peak time. 


The Love Island viewership figures got even worse when the show coincided with the Euros game between England and Denmark. The show pushed its start time by an hour, but as the England game went into extra time, it just wasn’t enough of a delay for the show. Love Island saw under a million viewers, just 941,000 to be precise. That is down by 1.2 million viewers on average. Now, if I was a brand that had paid £100,000 for a 30 second TV ad slot that was seen by less than half of the viewers that it was expected to, I wouldn’t be best pleased. 

The Future

What does the future of ‘commercialised TV’ look like? I’m unsure. This year’s show highlights the instability of viewer figures. As a social media marketer, I have to wonder whether that £100,000 would be better being put into social media ads that are not only targeting your target audience but are also extremely measurable. If brand exposure is your goal, surely there are better ways to invest your money where you know that you’re likely to achieve results, irrespective of huge sporting events? That’s just me. 


Do I think this style of marketing investment into TV shows will continue? Absolutely. But, I do feel like this could be a make or break year for some big sponsors like I Saw It First, to see how much return they actually achieve from their investment. 


Hot or Flop?

On this one, I’m going to answer ‘warm’. Is that allowed? I don’t feel like it’s been a complete flop but it’s definitely not lived up to expectations, for viewers or brand partners. It’ll be interesting to see the total figures once the show has ended, and also see how the re-introduction of Casa Amour impacts things. 


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