BLOG POST BY: The Goat Agency
June 18, 2024

The Evolution of Love Island Influencers and How Brands Partner With Them

It’s summertime in the UK, which can only mean one thing, Love Island is back! Now in its 12th season, the show has grown massively since its launch. Whilst many tune in for the love stories and drama, the show is perhaps best known for its track record of creating influencers, or at least providing the platform for seemingly everyday people to pick up a career in social media as Love Island influencers.

Though it is still a reality TV show, Love Island has evolved beyond just that, emerging as a talent pool for the next batch of influencers. We’re unpacking that evolution, looking at how the show has impacted our perception of influencers, and how this narrative has changed over time. 

Image Of Love Island Influencers (Wes Nelson And Georgia Steel)

What is Love Island?

We should probably explain what Love Island is before diving into the nuances around its ecosystem.

If you’re not in tune with the UK’s broadcasting schedule, Love Island is a reality TV show that invites men and women into the “Love Island Villa” to compete in a series of tasks (as a couple) until they eventually find the love of their life. Like many shows of its kind, the public are encouraged to vote in to decide who stays in the villa, who goes home, and which couple receive the £50,000 cash prize. 

While a handsome cash prize seems like a great incentive, those who have featured on the show, especially in the last couple of years, have gone on to accomplish some pretty incredible feats, striking up lucrative brand deals, creating their own brands, and even being enlisted as creative directors, but we’ll get to that. Somewhere during its course, Love Island has gone from a show about love and drama to a birthplace for influencers. So how did this happen?

Love Island’s connection to influencers

In 2024, by the time we first see the islanders on our screens, they’re already verified on Instagram and have amassed a heap load of followers. But it wasn’t always like this. 

Somewhere along the way, contestants started to emerge from the show with a higher status. The involvement of former Love Islanders in our wider media became more prevalent. Where contestants from its early seasons were doing night club appearances, you’ve got Molly-Mae who became Creative Director at Pretty Little Thing, Alex and Olivia Bowen who have amassed millions through brand deals (like this Nivea campaign we worked on), and the countless former contestants that have gone onto pursue successful careers influencing on social media. 

A couple of years in, Love Island went from seemingly everyday contestants, to those ready-made for the screen. Post 2019, the show started to bring in contestants with notable backgrounds, like Tommy Fury, the brother of heavyweight boxer Tyson, Danni Dyer, daughter of actor Danny Dyer, Gemma Owen, and daughter of footballer Michael Owen. Eventually the Love Island identity became about having some level of following on social media, which brings us to the present day. 

This year, Love Island announced that it would be bringing in Joey Essex, in addition to a bunch of contestants who are already active on social, which marks a turning point for the show, moving toward celebrity talent for the first time. 

That concludes our brief history on Love Island. Now that we’ve established that Love Island is a functional platform for people to become influencers, let’s take a look at some of the best Love Island influencer brand collaborations, and the times it hasn’t quite gone to plan. 

How have brands partnered with Love Island Influencers over the years?

Ebay x Tasha Ghouri

Tasha Ghouri, runner up of Love Island’s 8th season, signed a brand deal with eBay in 2022. The partnership looked to endorse secondhand fashion, with Ghouri revealing her role as “pre-loved ambassador” via Instagram. 

Season 8 marked the first time that pre-loved fashion featured on the show. In fact, eBay was named as the show’s official pre-loved fashion partner that year, making the collaboration with Ghouri even more remarkable. Throughout the season, eBay supplied contestants with collections of secondhand clothing to inspire viewers to lean into pre-owned clothing.

“Prior to Love Island, I’ve always bought secondhand for my wardrobe, so partnering with eBay is really a dream come true.” Ghouri wrote at the time. The collaboration between Ghouri and eBay marked a first time move away from fast fashion endorsements. 

Following the season 8 finale, a survey found that Love Island’s partnership with eBay was encouraging audiences to move away from fast fashion. 48% were found to have adopted more eco-friendly shopping habits, such as buying from sustainable brands and buying pre-loved clothing. 

Snapping up one of Love Island’s most loved contestants that season, who already had sustainable clothing as one of their passion points, was an excellent move from eBay, making the campaign a resounding success. 

Pretty Little Thing x Molly-Mae Hague

Since finishing as the runner up on Love Island’s 5th season, alongside her now fiance Tommy Fury, Molly-Mae has been the centerpiece of many clothing collaborations with Pretty Little Thing. 

Having been a brand ambassador since 2018, the fast fashion retailer escalated the relationship, appointing Hague as the Creative Director in 2021. After a two year tenure, Molly-Mae stepped down in 2023 to focus on being a mother. 

This partnership points to an evolution between the relationship of brands and influencers. Molly-Mae’s reign at Pretty Little Thing was unique, it involved supporting the brand outside of her own content through ideation for other media, product development and the brand’s wider strategy – a first of its kind partnership for any influencer emerging from Love Island. 

Oh Polly x Ekin-Su Culculoglu 

Now for an activation that wasn’t seemingly as successful. 

Ekin-Su was the winner of Love Island season 8, alongside Davide Sanclimenti. Now, as the winner you’d expect her to get the best deal out of the bunch. Six months after signing the “biggest clothing deal in Love Island history”, a huge launch party, and subsequent release of her clothing line, the former Islander was dropped by Oh Polly. The reason for the breakup,  the relationship was “not working” with Ekin-Su failing to appeal to the brand’s customer base, reported the Mail Online

This proves that brands can get it wrong when it comes to influencer selection. In this case, Ekin perhaps did not embody the brand’s values in the way that Molly-Mae and Tasha Ghouri represented PLT and eBay. Maybe Oh Polly moved too quickly, snapping up the Love Island winner and making that their defining requirement. 

Love Island’s impact on influencer marketing

Love Island is a hotspot for influencer talent, often being the platform for budding content creators to blossom toward celebrity status. Today, the show seems to lean more towards those who want to become influencers, with a prerequisite of having strapping good looks. 

As a show, Love Island is quickly becoming more and more about influencers, with brands waiting to snap them up following the finale, but that doesn’t always work. From what we’ve learnt, it’s clear that things can go wrong when partnering up with former contestants. 

With nine years in the influencer space, we’re just as old as Love Island, but what we’ve learned in that time is that meaningful activations carry the most weight. This means that teaming up with the winner, for no reason other than their triumph, is not always going to work. Instead your partnership will need to strike a deeper connection with both the influencer and the audience you’re trying to reach. 

How can brands partner with Love Islanders for more meaningful campaigns?

Influencers are people, just like everyone else, which means they have personal preferences, values, and interests. Passion points. Why did the Tasha collab with eBay work so well? She expressed her love for secondhand fashion, and adorned them throughout the show. How about Molly-Mae’s collab with PLT? They had worked together for three years before bringing her in as a Creative Director. They identified her as someone who truly represented the brand beyond what gets posted to social media, and were right to assume that she could steer the ship toward creative success.

Brands need to scratch the surface before they turn the key on their partnerships. Look beyond what you see on the screen. A great example of this is Boots’ partnership with Tasha Ghouri. For those that aren’t aware, Ghouri suffers from hearing loss. Following her Love Island campaign, Boots gave her the platform to talk about her condition to raise awareness, educate, and inspire, while discussing her favorite beauty products. While a lot of Love Island influencers opt for fast fashion deals, this partnership felt much deeper, and provided fans of the show with something more beyond just a discount code. 

For a more memorable campaign, there are some important things to think about:

  • Consider if an influencer is right for your brand: It’s imperative that you do your research into who you work with. What are their values? Who is their target audience? Will they appeal to your audience? All of these questions are far more important than who has the biggest following or who won the competition.  
  • Can you switch up the narrative?: A lot of the collaborations with Love Islanders result in a new clothing line or influencer-inspired beauty product. It’s time to think outside the box. Venture where you haven’t before. Think about how you can reach your target audience in new and exciting ways.
  • Can your influencer partnership contribute to the wider strategy?: We’re all about maximizing influencer marketing efforts. Consider leveraging multiple channels. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of influencer integrations is the alignment with innovative channels, such as retail media and social commerce. We can help you with that. 

Concluding thoughts – What’s next for Love Island influencers?

We asked some of our influencer experts what lies in store for Love Island influencers. Here’s what they had to say:

How they appear on-screen impacts the brands they work with

The public gets eight weeks to analyze the Islanders personalities, as do brands. How Islanders choose to portray themselves on the show can heavily impact the type of brands they work with following the finale. “One thing I’ve been thinking about while watching this year is that how they act on the show can really impact which brands they’re able to work with,” said Alice Onof, Campaign Manager at Goat. “For example there have been some contestants who’ve been embroiled in controversy or made questionable decisions on the show so we would hesitate to recommend them as a partner to a brand. Love Island is watched by so many people, and everyone has an opinion. We need to be very in tune with public perception and how that’s continuously shifting overtime” she added. 

Of course, not every influencer forms a negative public opinion. “Even in the post Molly-Mae era, there are still influencers who come out on top and can have brand collabs that have a big impact.

Take Lochan Nowacki, who starred in last year’s programme, for example. He’s now a great foodie influencer and is perfect for brands like Tesco as he embodies what they’re all about. We also worked with Tesco on a campaign featuring Molly Marsh, so as Alice sees it, “If they have a positive brand image throughout love island, they can have really influential brand collabs.

It would be great to see more relatable contestants 

Love Island seemingly shifted its casting tactics from everyday people to those ready-made for the screen. What comes with this is the sacrifice of relatable personalities. As Georgia Mellis, Operations Executive at Goat puts it, “There have been so many brand partnerships around Love Island over the years and what we are starting to see is a lot of fatigue from consumers. I hope that in the next few years, Love Island rethink their casting tactics a little as it would be great to see more “relatable” contestants on the show.

If Love Island were to strip back their casting, not only would this help tackle viewer fatigue, it would help brands create more interesting and valuable partnerships as they would have something unique or personal to share.

That’s all for this one, but don’t forget you can catch up on the latest news and developments from the social and influencer space over on our blog

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Written by: The Goat Agency