Whether you started watching Love Island four seasons ago, are tuning in for the first time for this season's finale, we're all aware of the fortune set to be made by the contestants from appearing on the reality TV show. In fact, just last week Frontier Economics proved that Love Island contestants are more likely to earn more than Oxbridge graduates, with expected earnings as high as £1.1 million after leaving the show. Whether it’s sponsored Instagram posts, fitness guides or club appearances, even the dullest members of the Love Island cast stand to make some decent dough off the back of the series – and let’s be honest, with the way this series has been edited, that’s almost all of them.
With this in mind, one burning question has come up time and time again during this season. Are they really there for love, or is it all for fame? It was a debate started by last year’s winner, Amber Davies, who spoke about the unanticipated and ‘overwhelming’ fame her and fellow contestants received after the show on ITV’s Lorraine back in June (which honestly, after eight weeks of unwarranted Love Island FOMO feels like a year ago):
‘We had no idea how much it was going to blow up,’ she said, ‘so we were all going in there for the right reasons, so I hope they’ve kept that this year as well.’
To be frank, questioning whether the contestants have gone on the show for love or fame is pointless, for two reasons. Firstly, Love Island isn’t exactly known for its success rate in forming long-lasting relationships, despite being its selling point, and if you were desperate to find love as a young, stereotypically beautiful person you could go on a group holiday and probably have the same chances.
Secondly, the love and the fame? They're inexorably linked. It’s quite clear that if you’re choosing to go on TV, you want exposure - especially now it's clear just how big the show has become (and arguably, it was pretty clear last year too - no offence Amber). So the question really is, how far are the Love Island contestants willing to go to continue receiving that exposure when they leave the villa? Or, to put it another way, how far are they willing to pretend they entered the show for love, and ergo stay in an unhappy relationship, when in reality they just wanted one million followers on Instagram?
It’s something we question when a couple on the TV show appears not to be completely genuine. Take, for example, Jess Shears and Dom Lever from last year’s Love Island. Despite viewers doubting the sincerity of their relationship, and they’re willingness to take on any PR appearance – including the opening of a chicken shop – they’ve stayed together since the show ended and seemingly proven everyone wrong.
Yet, staying together, and subsequently announcing they’re moving in together (the day after they left the show), engagement (just over a month after leaving the show) and having a fake wedding on ITV’s This Morning, they have managed to earn a ton by maintaining a somewhat rollercoaster narrative as a couple.
This is something Matt Nicholls, a talent agent at United Agents, says is key to ensuring continued interest in a celebrity. ‘I think they key for a couple would be to be together but to keep the story moving,’ he says, ‘so a certain amount of volatility to keep people interested but not enough to break up.’
He uses Chris Hughes and Olivia Jade-Attwood as an example, whose on-again-off-again relationship maintained the public eye on them for long after they left the villa. ‘[They] did well initially because they had a volatile relationship,’ he continues, ‘because if its volatile it continues the narrative, it's “are they having an argument?”, “are they together or are they not?”, that all generates interest and that generates column inches and followers and that then generates fees and endorsements.’
While it sounds calculated, he insists that couples are unlikely to stay in an unhappy relationship purely for the fame. ‘I wouldn’t imagine people would stay together purely for the endorsements afterwards,’ he says, ‘I think they will all still get these endorsements whether they’re single or together because what they’ve gained is Instagram followers.’
That being said, there’s no doubt that staying together as a couple brings greater intrigue, especially if, as he says, the relationship is far from stable. In the case of this year’s Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer, it also brings a whole host of people who are hugely invested in them as a couple. With that comes exclusive photoshoots inside their live together, and most financially beneficial, they’re own spin-off TV show, which according to the Sun is already the works.
Frances Pardell, PR expert and owner of Pardell Public Relations, claims that whether or not a couple is more successful when they stay together really depends on the personalities of each person.
‘I think it varies from couple to couple, Dani and Jack are worth more together because they're like the Posh and Becks of Love Island,’ she says, ‘they've become a brand. As a couple, they're stronger together than if they go off on their own.’
Her point is evidenced by the success of the couples who are still together since the show ended. Nathan Massey and Cara Delahoyde just sold their engagement pictures exclusively to Ok! Magazine, Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowen will likely follow suit with their wedding images, and in the meantime, Olivia has starred on TLC UK’s Say Yes To The Dress – as has Jessica Shears.
All the while, the majority of contestants in couples - all of whom separated in the year after their season ended - are down to teeth-whitening sponsored posts and the occasional clothing collaboration.
There are clear exemptions to the rule of course, Amber Davies remains in the public eye as a TV presenter, Chris Hughes and Kem Cetinay’s bromance has carried them through to have their own TV show and Montana Brown continues her reign as a Pretty Little Thing ambassador.
It seems that if your personality is big enough, you’ll maintain celebrity regardless of your status as a couple. If not? You’ll have social media fame for a good few years, and a possible appearance on TOWIE if they’re ratings ever drop. So, if you’re not willing to fake it till you make it, (and it would appear that most contestants aren’t if we’re going by what the PR experts tell us) then you have to rely on a great talent agent and endless club appearances aka Adam Collards three-month tour, to ensure outlearning all of those Oxbridge graduates after all...
Click through to keep up with all of those teeth-whitening posts, here are the Love Island contestants instagram handles...
Adam is a 22-year-old personal trainer and gym director from Newcastle.