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The White Lotus effect: searches for Sicily skyrocket

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The White Lotus effect: searches for Sicily skyrocket


Sun, sex and scandal may have been the themes of HBO’s hit show The White Lotus, but it hasn’t deterred marketers from associating with the show and its global grasp. The pop cultural phenomenon has been shaping marketing since its second season.

According to iStock’s VisualGPS Insights, searches for “Sicily” have been trending across Australian businesses who use the stock photo platform. When the series finale came out in November, the searches peaked at a whopping 350 percent increase. 

What is now being known as “The White Lotus effect”, the searches aren’t limited to Southern Italy, but more broadly European islands. Sardinia and the Greek Islands have seen major search spikes, with visuals being downloaded including travel and aerial images of picturesque coastlines.

The search increase isn’t limited to travel brands. According to the data, searches on “Sicily” are also trending among the food and wine industry. This suggests that tapping into the cult of The White Lotus will see an uptick of marketing Italian-style food, wine and hospitality experiences.

“Brands want to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist and engage in cultural and social conversations in a genuine, authentic way with their audiences,” says iStock’s head of creative insights, Asia Pacific, Kate Rourke.. “Visual storytelling is one way to do this and we often see this through the creative use of gifs, memes and visuals tied to popular TV shows and movies.”

How can brands use The White Lotus and other pop culture phenomenons 

  • Appeal to humour, levity, context and themes of the content, 
  • diversify and be inclusive in  your visuals, and remember
  • social is king, continue to use social channels to boost the popular content and aesthetics to draw users in.

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Liv Croagh

Liv Croagh was the Managing Editor of Marketing Mag from September 2021 to September 2023.

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