The nation sits glued to ITV2 with baited breath and intermittent roars of laughter. We’re waiting to see what will become of the couples on Love Island and who will be the first to burst into tears tonight. It could be argued that in the middle of an obscenely hot summer we’re all just drawn to sparkling blue waters and the notion of lying around on a beach all day, but that’s not just it, there’s more to this Love Island fever than idle daydreaming of cooler destinations. While the target demographic is 16-24 year olds, it hasn’t stopped older audiences tuning in every night to get their fix.
Perhaps it’s all just behavioural sciences and we’re fascinated by drama and the ways in which people interact with one another. There’s certainly an argument to be made for modern romance, dating in the time of social media, the transition of masculinity and the insecurities of millennials. In fact, there’s enough material there for an entire psychology conference. And maybe, we just like to see real people, just like us, struggle with the same things we do in our everyday lives. Catching up with the Kardashians every week is all good and well, but the percentage of people who can actually relate to them is slim and those who can, probably aren’t keeping up with them.
But perhaps we’re overcomplicating it and the truth of the matter is, sex sells. It always has and as long as any kind of tension exists between the genders, it always will. From perfume, to chocolate, to valve caps and cars, we’ve used sex, or some form of physical desire, to shift products off the shelf and into the hands of consumers. Is that actually just what our type is and the type of every brand out there these days? From sponsorship deals to social media strategies, there doesn’t seem to be a brand who isn’t jumping on the Love Island bandwagon, even subtly referencing it in their ad campaigns. We are apparently in need of sun, sex and absolutely ridiculous love dramas.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about the show and surrounding social consciousness is the way we have become attached to the characters on our screens, and not because they’re celebrities or household names, but because they are in fact, just like us. Whether we’re watching Dani and Jack fight over the shopping or the girls chatting and getting ready, they look and act and talk just like the audience on the other side of the screen. They do things we do, cry over the same things as us, and devoid of plastic asses, personal trainers, chefs and assistants, they worry about the same wobbly bits as we do. They are ultimately and fundamentally relatable.
It feels like the signalling of a new age of advertisement and marketing, one that is already creeping in thanks to social media influencers and the YouTube stars of today. Perhaps the big celebrity names have had their heyday and a younger generation, more influenced by Instagram famous models than by George Clooney want to watch the people that look like them. It might not be the case for the traditional brands like Dior and Givenchy, but for brands making a name for themselves now and targeting the golden demographic that is 16-24 year-olds, they perhaps understand that people want their stars to be less out of reach, and more like them. That our type, on paper, is in fact the people who are just like us.