Friday 2 August 2019 6:28 am

DEBATE: Is it fair to consider ITV’s Love Island the biggest advertising opportunity of 2019?

Is it fair to consider ITV’s Love Island the biggest advertising opportunity of 2019?

Dave Lawrence, planning partner at creative agency Brave, says YES.

Whether the show was the “biggest advertising opportunity” depends on what that brand was trying to achieve. While the women’s World Cup earlier this year, for example, had a much larger audience, its demography was far less specific and loyal.  

For brands chasing the millennial pound – especially in the fashion and beauty industries – Love Island was undoubtedly fruitful. 

It’s not just the show itself, but its network effect. 

Start from the basic premise that everything on the show is an ad. You run a TV ad campaign, your product appears in the show, the contestant’s millions of followers see it on Instagram, your social media team jumps on the right hashtags, and consumers engage with it. 

At that point, there’s barely a person vaguely interested in the show who hasn’t seen your message. That’s some opportunity. 

It’s little wonder that ITV has announced a winter series which, at Christmas, may prove very successful.

Read more: DEBATE: Should the summer school holiday be shortened?

Jem Fawcus, chief executive at human insight agency Firefish, says NO.

There’s no denying that Love Island is an advertiser’s dream. The final received 3.6m viewers – that’s 3.6m chances to engage customers through product placement, sponsorship deals, and advertising spots. 

But to claim that it was the biggest advertising opportunity of 2019 is an overstatement, and perhaps myopic. 

Other big advertising opportunities are manifest, yet often overlooked. Take the women’s World Cup, which drew in 8.2m viewers, or the last season of Game of Thrones, which had 3.4m UK eyeballs for the final episode. 

Love Island’s viewing figures are high but not an anomaly – Coronation Street averages more viewers. 

And Love Island has a sell-by-date. The audience is engaged during the series, but fandom wanes afterwards, as does the stardust of the contenders. 

Brands need to think about the human beings behind the viewership, and how they will move on as trend dictates. In terms of long-term brand-building, Love Island hasn’t a patch on the World Cup.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.