How subliminal branding tricks provide more bang for a sponsors buck

Love it or hate it, Love Island is the only thing competing with the FIFA World Cup for TV audience attention this summer, with 3.37 million people tuning in to the launch episode.

From a brand perspective, its interesting to see how the show’s principle sponsor – the beauty retailer Superdrug – are leveraging all aspects of their partnership. With a campaign strategy that is all about ‘fun in the sun’ aimed at the 16-34 audience, Love Island’s ability to influence young people whilst inspiring them to feel ‘summer ready’ is the perfect vehicle for the Superdrug brand. It is why this is now the third year of their relationship.

Recently, they have re-shaped their strategy in order to focus on more affordable beauty & healthcare products aimed at a more specific set of younger consumers (to circumvent their largest competitor in the UK – Boots – who cater for a much larger demographic with their 2,500+ stores).

Whilst other Love Island ad placements have rightly been questioned – the results are clear to see. A 900% increase in Superdrug brand search terms, and 200k+ visits to the Superdrug website immediately after each show. The deal also makes them the exclusive sponsor of the Love Island app – which generated £1.5m in app merchandise sales and 17.5m total content views in 2017 alone.

Whether shrewdly intentional, or merely a wonderful coincidence – the use of a handwritten Love Island font that is remarkably similar to its main sponsor logo really does provide Superdrug with a wealth of subliminal links across all channels. Adorning all areas of The Villa where the show is filmed, over branded merchandise, through to the Love Island social content that is engaging with audiences throughout the day in the run up to the show airing – the font is everywhere. It highlights the ability for a typeface to be identifiable and to be a vehicle for a brands’ meaning – without using a logo itself.

Merchandise doesn’t become sought after, or collectible if it comes with a massive Superdrug logo all over it.

But if it comes personalised with an individuals’ name – using the same typeface as the Superdrug logo, then it overcomes this potential barrier. It is brand association without mentioning the brand. Similar to when brands like Marlboro attempted to bypass the ban on overt F1 tobacco sponsorship in 2010.

Although the partnership has been positive, there is even more that Superdrug might have done to maximise the results, such as:

• More impactful packaging which really pushes home the co-branding on exclusive products.

Improve the click through of Love Island focused social posts with more linking to their summer product range.

• Their Twitter content is rich with current Love Island moments, but could easily link to more products or looks. Their Instagram only provides those direct links when its taken over by a partner brand like Rimmel London.

• The Superdrug Instagram channel has more followers, and achieves more engagement, than both its Facebook and Twitter accounts combined – and yet the more overt Love Island content is focused on those latter platforms. As such, their FB posts are getting nowhere near the engagement levels of their Instagram feed.

• Had they embraced shoppable content on Instagram, they would’ve made it a lot easier for their followers to shop the various looks.

• Making their main e-commerce website as fun, vibrant and colourful shopping experience as their Love Island focused social content.

Maybe one reason that Superdrug haven’t embraced shoppable content on social is that they are working on a longer term customer build. Their loyalty scheme, that works in conjunction with the Superdrug app, has over 19 million registered members – all benefiting from targeted, location based in-app deals and promotions.

But this is us really drilling down into the nitty gritty – the overall brand association is immensely successful and is working brilliantly in selling more products for the sponsor. It is vital for brands to convert any investment and subsequent huge audience interest into sales (Love Island has now become ITV2’s highest rated show, with viewing figures topping 4million already this season). Direct engagement with their #LoveIsland and #RimmelxLoveIsland tagged social posts is key – but maximising the potential of every possible channel with joined up, out of the box thinking is paramount.

It may all seem trivial – but other brands can learn from how Superdrug are capitalising on their sponsorship across multiple channels – both in terms of what they’re doing well, and with regard to what things could be improved upon.

What can’t be denied is that they are now winning the fight for the attention of today’s young beauty & healthcare consumers over their biggest rival.

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