'It's taken us by surprise this year': Brands frantically graft on social media for Love Island final

Love Island

With upwards of 3 million people expected to tune in, the Love Island final, surprisingly, turned into one of the most eagerly anticipated TV events of the year. And it didn't go unnoticed by brand marketers.

In case you haven’t been religiously tuning into ITV2 at 9pm sharp for the past eight weeks, Love Island is a game show where swimwear-clad contestants sharing a villa in Majorca are played off against each other in a search for true love and a cash prize of £50,000.

The show’s status in pop culture has elevated to remarkable heights, with 3 million devout viewers tuning in six nights a week. Viewing for the show is up 73% from last year, merchandise is sold out and the show is ITV's biggest ratings puller this year for viewers aged 16-24.

A glance at the number of Instagram posts under the #LoveIsland hashtag shows over 133,000 posts, while media agency Carat's research reveals that the contestants' favorite catchphrase 'muggy' is the top-used phrase on Twitter by Love Island viewers with 46,800 mentions. Other expressions from the show such as '100% my type on paper', 'grafting', 'snakey' and 'melt' also abound on social media.

As the show draws to a close tonight, Kelly Williams, ITV’s commercial director told The Drum the reaction has been unprecedented: “I think if we’re honest we didn’t expect it to be this big, it’s really crossed over into a mainstream audience. And commercially it’s been a great success - we’re chuffed to bits.”

Superdrug is the headline sponsor for the second year, benefiting from ad breaks and product placement throughout the programme. Adtech firm Captify noted that searches for Superdrug have surged by 900% during the past month, giving it an edge over competitor Boots.

"Superdrug’s 15 second opening credit sequence and 10 second bumpers throughout the show are really paying off. However, the real winners are those brands that didn’t pay the hefty sponsorship fee but continue to see spikes in online interests for their products," Captify's research found.

Tesco is selling "Muggy Mike" mugs, while Primark has sold 170,000 official Love Island T-shirts emblazoned with catchphrases such as 'I used to be in Blazin' Squad' (referring to contestant Marcel). While the personalised water bottles sported by the islanders have now sold out.

"Whatever we put in the show sells," Williams declared, citing examples such as sponsor Ministry of Sound's recent album selling out thanks to the show.

It's little wonder that now brands that didn't sponsor the show are frantically trying to tap into the show's popularity.

Frank, a consumer and lifestyle PR agency, will be one of many in the industry tuning in tonight on the lookout for commercial opportunities. The agency worked with flight booking service Kiwi.com to take advantage of the uptake in flight searches to Majorca around the time the finale airs tonight.

“Big TV programmes are always a good hook for reactive PR, but I have to admit, Love Island's mass popularity has taken everyone a bit by surprise this year,"said Andrew Bloch, founder and group managing director at Frank. "Everyone wants a piece of it at the moment, as it’s the show that has got the nation talking. We are looking at a number of potential activations for clients, and have the contestants agents on speed dial tonight."

Frank's client's aren't the only ones looking to capitalise on the conversation. We take a look at who was 'grafting' on social media for the final:

Some posts are a little more tenuous...

While others just plain 'snakey':

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Robyn Darbyshire

Robyn Darbyshire is a content editor at The Drum, writing and editing across print and digital editions as well as helping to manage production processes. She looks after Creative Works, Trending and Shelf Life in the magazine.

All by Robyn