Love Island 2023: The Influencer EXIT
The big LI, the show of the summer – where Pretty Little Thing found Molly Mae and Ebay found Tasha Ghouri. It’s an influencer-creating machine with many islanders landing 6 figure deals on their exit from the vill. In recent years, Love Island 2023 has taken a new approach to dispel bullying, harassment and online hate speech. They did this by axing the ability for a family member or friend to run islanders’ social media accounts when they’re on the island.
In an age where personal branding is significant in any marketing strategy, is Love Island losing its influencer appeal?
Yes and no.
The No Social Campaign Rule
ITV bosses have announced that the contestants will be banned from having active social media after entering the vill in South Africa this year. This new approach aims to prevent bullying and harassment towards contestants while on the show.
It was previously trailed during the Winter version of the show earlier this year with a specific focus from ITV on providing a better duty of care to the islanders, highlighted by the sad passing of 3 people who were in some way involved with the show including ex-host Caroline Flack.
ITV is no stranger to a barrage of hate comments surrounding Love Island, with record-breaking OfCom complaints submitted after rows, fallouts and tantrums.
The Influencer Effect
We all know Love Island isn’t for love anymore; it’s for exposure, and there is nothing wrong with that – we wish people would admit it more often. Molly Mae-Hauge went on the show in 2019 and, despite finding Love, has admitted it was a strategic career move. It worked, as Molly is now the Creative Director of PrettyLittleThing.
Other stars have gone on to mega land deals, Gemma Owen secured a PrettyLittleThing deal, Ekin Su Cülcüloğlu signed a million-pound deal with Oh Polly, Amber Davies signed with Motel Rocks, and Kem Cetinay has landed multiple presenting deals.
Then VS now
Follower gains are a massive reason that contestants go on Love Island in the first place. 2023 content Samie Elishi has been one of the only islands of the Winter series to admit her reason for entering the show was strategic, and anything else was a bonus. She has amassed 500K+ more followers on Instagram since her bombshell appearance on week 2 of the January series. She now sits at a comfortable 661k which, compared to other series’ is pretty dire.
2022 summer star Luca Bish shortly hit 1 million after the show ended last August and now has 1.4m.
Ekin Su Cülcüloğlu has a massive 3.2m, 2019 star Maura Higgins sits at 3.7m, and Chris Hughes from the 2017 series has a healthy 2m followers.
The mass millions of followers were gained on the show, most notably towards the end, with the above all hitting the 1m mark by two weeks after the show ended, so why has the Winter series not seen the same effect?
Here is a table of the top 10 highest followers from Love Island 2023 Winter edition:
Interestingly, Kai Fagan and Sanam Harrinanan were the winners, yet not most followed.
The drop-off? No social media campaigning from family, and yes, it can make a significant difference. In 2022 Luca Bish’s sister used his social media account to hold Q&As, post old family photos, and engage with users.
In the past, handling social media profiles by family and friends allowed families to team up, sharing bromances and friendships between islands to build each other up. This results in a synergistic marketing relationship between two fellow islanders gaining from interaction, engagement and exposure.
The Future of Love Island Influencers
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your personal views), the Love Island influencer trope may be approaching a slow, saturated end. With a lack of social media presence compared to previous years, brands will be more sceptical bout offering current and new contestants multi-figure deals – for fear of jeopardising ROI. Put this way, a more recent islander with less than half a million followers won’t secure the opportunities Dani Dyer or other successful contestants have.
I see the Love Island influencer being less of a mega deal brand ambassador and more of a post-a-picture advertiser. This still brings significant brand exposure if theory products and experiences are posted to a larger audience. But, I fear the life of islander fashion deals, designing collections and securing 6 figure deals is long gone.
Is the Social Ban the Way Forward?
In all ways, yes. The social media ban puts new and prospective islanders in a better place to mentally deal with their newfound fame, and ultimately – their mental health is worth more than the golden fashion deal.
It’s a reality show – it’s edited to form a story with characters and villains, and without social media profiles to discuss, see more backstory or engage with people, rely only on an hour at 9 pm each day to see the story unfold.
However, as the decline in followers gained, continued viewership is also losing considerably, with this summer’s series 10 of Love Island losing 1 million viewers compared to last year’s opening ep.
Is the appeal gone? Are islanders quitting their jobs for too much of a risk? Are their opportunities for personal branding gone forever? Will this year’s standout stars Molly Marsh, Catherine Adbaje, Mitchel Taylor and Mehdi Edno, that have entered the villa, see any post-villa big success?
It seems the clock is ticking on the end of Love Island influencers as we know it…