How eBay’s Love Island sponsorship increased engagement by 1400%
After it was announced this week that eBay will replace Just Eat as Love Island’s headline sponsor, what have the online marketplace done to separate themselves from the show’s history of problematic partners?
Why have Love Island partnered with eBay?
The shift to a more sustainable headline partner addresses widespread criticism for Love Island’s extensive association with ‘fast fashion’ brands. Since the partnership began, eBay’s success has been phenomenal: during series nine, the platform saw a 1400% increase in on-site searches for ‘pre-loved fashion’ compared to series eight. It has further seen a 24% increase in new circular businesses joining the online marketplace so far in 2023.
For Love Island, distancing itself from Boohoo, whose illegal working conditions and unsustainable practices continue to be sponsorship poison, makes sense. Even last year, users reported that the eBay tab on the Love Island app was hard to find, and that it focused mainly on single use plastic toiletries and makeup. As YouTuber Leena Norms notes, the lifestyle promoted by Love Island is “directly at odds with how we’re going to have to live in the next 30 to 50 years.” More had to be done for a meaningful effort at sustainability, and this renewed, developed partnership certainly helps.
The aim for eBay is to show the functionality of pre-loved items and drive conversation around fashion circularity; the aim for Love Island is to address their association with environmentally damaging companies. As they replace Just Eat, whose model relies on an enormous degree of single use containers, a sustainability-driven campaign all but adds reliability to both brands.
What are eBay doing?
Once again, Amy Bannerman will resume her role as eBay’s Pre-loved Style Director, sourcing clothing from eBay to style the new Islanders. A selection of authenticated sneakers and garments from eBay’s Imperfects range will also be entering the villa’s wardrobe. The company will run a series of idents during the main show’s ad breaks, as well as any catch-up programmes.
What can we learn from eBay’s success and what are the potential risks looking forward?
The lessons from eBay’s success run deep. To have a positive impact, your product or service’s strengths should respond to issues within the prospective partner’s model. In circumstances where a current sponsor is negatively affecting said partner, consider how your product or service can address those issues in a public and positive way.
While it is unclear exactly how this partnership will play out on our screens, eBay’s sponsorship campaign does include gaps of its own. Islanders wear multiple outfits every day – could eBay have allowed items to be reused to confront excessive consumption? Furthermore, selecting items before the Islanders have even been chosen feeds into criticism of contestant control around the show. In sponsoring “the most commercialised show on British television,” eBay run the risk of being associated with the show’s wider problematic image.
Ultimately, fashion’s sustainability efforts are confabulated through an amalgam of fast fashion dominance and affordability. Through doubling down on their partnership with Love Island, eBay have advertised the practical uses of their platform exceptionally, as shown by the 20% increase in listings YOY since the initial launch in 2022. eBay have also shown that they are able to respond to specific trends such as Y2K and push the show into representing high-end, better-quality brands. The challenge going forward will be in continuing to leverage the sponsorship to improve perceptions of Love Island as a whole. If they can do so while increasing traffic towards their services, they will cement themselves as practical players in the conversation around fast fashion.