3 Lessons Brands Can Learn From Love Island

This week some of us have been glued to the TV and a few insights have caught our eye…

It’s that time of the year again. No, it’s not that we are on the cusp of summer or because there is a major football tournament taking place. No, I’m talking about the fact that Love Island is back on the television!

Regardless of how you feel about the programme and the various piece of bad publicity that it has gathered in recent months, there is no denying its popularity and many people develop something akin to an obsession with the antics of the cherry-picked human specimens cavorting around in swimwear. Male, female, generations X, Y & Z — it is a show with a great breadth of appeal. So, what is it about this show that drives such devotion and what can brands learn from it?

Provide Escapism

This might be obvious, but Love Island is no more real life than any other reality TV programme. But that’s not the point since all it is intended to be is a desirable escape from the pressures of everyday life. After a day in the office, all most of us want to do is metaphorically turn our brains off and there is something about the petty dramas of pretty people that has an oddly soporific effect. Indeed, it could be argued Love Island is the perfect brain enema for our increasingly chaotic, loud and crazy lives.

Many brands have toyed with escapism as part of their offering. From air fresheners promising to transport you away to far-off places through the power of scent, through to the holiday companies that quite literally do just that. An interesting example of a brand using escapism is Dinoski. This adventure brand is on a mission to show us just how much of our world there is left to explore, and much fun there is to be had while doing it. Founders Will, Ed and Matt have worked with children’s illustrator Jane Foster to create a range of stand-out ski suits for children that inspires them to get out and explore.

Manufacture a sense of community

Much has been made of the fact that many of the individuals who appear on Love Island occasionally come across as being a couple of abs short of a six-pack. But could this actually be done intentionally as a way to encourage viewers to bond? By employing clever editing techniques and using terms like ‘cast’ and ‘characters’, the show intentionally engineers OMG moments. These are the moments that viewers discuss ad nauseum on social media or over coffee the day after. If you watched the show, you can be part of the conversation and allowed one of the gang.

The brand equivalent might be to drive a sense of selectness — of being “in-the-know”. These are the beta-testers that are able to use the next must-have game before anyone else or the speakeasy bars that are hidden in plain sight and known only to a select few. Naked Wines is a good example. This online wine retailer, founded by Rowan Gormley, launched in the UK on 1 December 2008. Naked Wines’ customers (called Angel Investors) fund independent winemakers from around the world, in return for wines that aren’t available on the high-street at “wholesale prices”.

Make people laugh

Occasionally, there are some genuinely hilarious moments that are either very well scripted or are a damning inditement on the UK education system. Take this exchange from the 2016 show

“What’s the Lake District?”

“It’s… a district with lots of lakes. You’ve got Belfast there. What’s the stretch of sea between England and Ireland?

“The English Channel?”

That’s the sort of humour that travels — certainly more often than those contestants.

Outright humour is a tricky thing for brands to get right in one market, let alone finding a way for it travel around the world. But there are global brands that have made a decent job of it. M&Ms have used the same characters around the world since 1954 and have adopted the same humorous tone of voice in every market. Another example is Dollar-Shave-Club whose legendary irreverent, slightly anarchic and massively viral first commercial gave them the perfect platform to go global (or at least get the attention of Unilever)

The HX learnings

The ingredients to creating an addictive and compelling TV show are not so different from some of those used to build a successful brand:

  • Provide Escapism

The trick is to create a connection with the audience that is being targeted and stick to that winning formula time and time again (or at least until the audience finds something else to delight them). But it is important not to over intellectualise the situation. It could simply be that the limbic part of the human brain just likes looking a sexy people in swimwear and no other, deeper explanation is required.

Marc Edwards is a director at Brand Genetics, an insight and innovation agency specialising in human-centred insight and innovation. With nearly 20 years of agency and client-side experience, Marc is an insight and innovation specialist, with and a track record of driving value in brand and products through strategic planning and creative ideation.

Human-Centered Insight, Innovation and Trends from Brand Genetics www.brandgenetics.com

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