What is going on with Taylor Swift, the Swifties, and football? And what can we learn from this marketing mastermind? 

Taylor Swift has dominated the social algorithms and box office all year thanks to her record-breaking Eras Tour — and now she’s seemingly infiltrated the NFL. Even if you’re not a Swiftie, there are some lessons to be learned from this unusual mashup. Here’s what’s happening and the key takeaways that you can use to help your brand’s digital marketing.

What are we talking about?

Social media lit up when Taylor Swift was spotted at the Chiefs game on Sept. 24. Her cheering, chatting with Mama Kelce, and departure in Travis Kelce’s getaway car literally broke the internet. And she did it again the following week, when she and her squad of celeb friends attended the Chiefs vs. Jets game outside New York City.

Immediately following these much-photographed sightings, speculation about the relationship took Swifties, the media, and the world by storm.

In case you missed it: Travis Kelce is one of the best players in the NFL, a Super Bowl champ, and top podcast host.

With a worldwide tour, album releases, and an upcoming feature film, Taylor also has a lot going on at the moment. Another major player in this relationship? The NFL. The organization has plenty to gain from the excitement of America’s sweethearts having some camera time.

What’s the impact?

Whether the relationship is romantic or not, the pairing has been hugely beneficial to all players so far.

  • Travis Kelce’s kersey sales have increased +400%
  • Kelce’s social media followers increased +800k in September
  • His New Heights podcast went to #1 following the game

For Taylor, being at the top of the news cycle is bringing even more buzz to her ongoing projects and building exposure with an untraditional audience for her brand — football fans.

What can we learn from this cultural moment?

1. An unlikely pairing can become a mutually beneficial relationship.

A rising tide lifts all boats, right? The right brand collaborations can be an excellent way to build brand awareness and gain exposure with audiences that might be difficult to reach authentically. 

In the case of the NFL, viewership is dominated by men aged 50+ in the U.S.. We’ve all witnessed the purchasing power of women this summer thanks to Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Barbie, and it seems like the NFL has welcomed the opportunity to tap into that same group. 

While it’s not a traditional brand partnership, football has quickly embraced this unlikely cultural moment. The NFL brand has made several playful nods to the budding relationship between Swift and Kelce in everything from TV commercials to social media, including changing their Twitter bio to “NFL (Taylor’s Version)”.

It’s a great example of the power of mutually beneficial relationships between different brands, even when it’s outside your usual consumer category. One of our biggest takeaways is that the right collab can help build brand awareness with a demographic that’s challenging to reach on your own.

2. Tap in to the cultural zeitgeistand fast.

With viewer’s attention spans continuing to shorten, cultural sensations come and go at lightning speed — so your brand needs to be ready to act fast when they do happen. If you’re hoping to take advantage of a viral moment, it’s crucial to be ready to run with it before the buzz fizzles out. 

The first step: always be looking for opportunities, even if it’s outside your brand’s normal comfort zone. Heinz saw a chance to enter the chat when a relatable image of Miss Americana with a chicken finger, ketchup, and (seemingly) ranch dip started circulating across social media. 

Just two days later, they blasted out images of their rebranded ketchup/ranch product with a post that blew their average Instagram numbers out of the water. While the NFL and the world’s largest pop star don’t seem like a natural fit for a condiment brand, Heinz was able to find a fun and natural way to fit their product into the narrative.

The Envisionit team knows that it pays to be nimble in digital. Seeing the impact of the Eras Tour on the tourism industry, we worked with National CineMedia to build an audience based on the largely-female ticket buyers to Taylor’s upcoming concert film. Using subtle Swiftie references, we created ads to showcase our destination client as a great place for a girl’s trip.

3. A positive cultural moment can outweigh negative stories. 

After a talked-about appearance in Kansas City, anticipation was at an all time high for Taylor to arrive at MetLife Stadium for the Chiefs vs. Jets game. But was all that hype intentional?

PR pros and fans speculated that Swift’s team might have ulterior motives. Remember last year when the news of Taylor Swift’s private jet usage was circling the internet? Now when you search “Taylor Swift jets”, the top content is Taylor Swift at the Jets Game — and not her climate impact. 

Did Taylor Swift mastermind this situation? We’ll never know for sure, but if they did it’s one of the most creative ways to bury a negative story about your brand. Intentional or not, it’s an interesting case study in the power of SEO. 

The overall lesson here is that partnerships and collaborations (even platonic ones) can be very beneficial for all players involved. This is a match made in capitalist heaven — and hopefully these two are having a great time, too. 

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