Britain’s love hate relationship with Reality TV has reached dizzying new heights in 2017. No matter how disapproving you are of the vapid and mind numbing nature of its contents, Reality TV is insatiable.
18 -24 year olds can be held accountable for a large majority of viewers of reality television, admittedly – myself included. And the series that seems to be creating the biggest splash at the moment is, of course, Love Island.
There is no denying that it’s incredibly popular – with ratings over 1.7 million, sometimes even exceeding 2 million each night. But you don’t need the stats to know this. A deadly-resistant strain of TV addict has been born on the back of this year’s series. And the phrase ‘my type on paper’ (ironically or otherwise) has seeped into the vocabulary of even my most educated friends. You only need to walk down the street to overhear a twenty-something shout ‘I GOT A TEXT’ to their mates when their phone goes off.
Surely using shows with such a powerful influence over young people is a great way to market your brand to this age group?
For obvious reasons, the exposure of your product or brand would gain a lot of traction. We live in an age of mass culture. And like it or lump it, the Mail Online is the most popular digital publication in the UK. You could say that Reality TV reflects a yearning for relatable people to be shown by the media. But are the participants relatable to the brilliantly diverse population of this country?
The guardian summed up Love Island as:
“the reality show – in which a bunch of horny men and women are invited on to an island seemingly for the sole purpose of having sex with each other”
Heterosexual sex that is. There isn’t even a wink at any kind of homosexual relationship in the villa. Not to mention the fact that every single contestant is ridiculously toned and beautiful.
This is the first major problem I have with using this genre as a marketing tool. It is indirectly encouraging the consumer to copy the behaviour of the participant/s.
You might think you’ve struck gold getting one of these guys wearing your t-shirt brand but the next minute their caught using drugs in front of young fans. And is it ethical to want young viewers to pedestalise stars with no outstanding merit or talent?
It’s easy to feign ignorance about the damage these shows can do to young people. But, it is widely known that they consume media and mimic the behaviour of people in it.
From an ethical marketing standpoint, Is it worth the risk?
The relationship between doing the right thing and making money has been divisive throughout human history. But I would argue that for a brand looking to improve their image in the long term, reality TV isn’t the answer.