Blank check: Taylor’s version of the NFL
| October 24, 2023
In a few short weeks, Taylor Swift has become the face of the NFL, given her highly-publicized relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Is it true love? Is it an elaborate publicity stunt? Truth and time will tell, but in the meantime, brands are catching on to the many marketing opportunities this pairing offers. With her massive fanbase and influence, Swift has brought a new audience to the NFL, and benefited other companies as the cameras watch her every move.
Taylor Swift's impact on the NFL
Taylor Swift has been one of the largest names in pop culture for over a decade, and her 2022 release of the album Midnights, followed by her global Eras Tour, and continual releases of re-recorded albums have propelled her to massive heights, and billionaire status. When her low-key relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn ended earlier this year, she was ready to face the spotlight once again. In being linked to an NFL superstar, the singer unleashed her fanbase on the league.
The NFL, as one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States, attracts a vast and diverse audience, making it a prime opportunity for brands to gain exposure and connect with consumers. Little did they realize the impact Swift would have after a single game. Sales of Kelce’s jersey were up 400% at NFLShop.com, and the game was the most-watched telecast of the week, with 24.3 million viewers.
The broadcast’s audience was largely female – in fact, they led every age demographic that night, with the largest jump seen with girls aged 12-17, up 8% from the same time last year.
Why Swifties are tuning in to the NFL
Swifties were tuning in not because of the game at hand, but to get a look at their fave, enjoying herself in a private suite with Kelce’s family, fellow Chiefs wives and girlfriends (commonly referred to as WAGs), and an ever-growing entourage of her pals. But with a league so heavily marketed towards males, the NFL would be wise to start paying attention to this growing niche of female viewers.
With the camera constantly panning to Swift, her every move is tracked, and her actions have had greater impacts beyond the world of football.
Taylor Swift has brands calling audibles
When a Swift fan account on X posted that she was having chicken fingers with ketchup and “seemingly ranch” in her private suite, condiment companies took the viral moment and ran with it. Hidden Valley Ranch, Heinz, and even Arby’s all promoted their own products, with a “seemingly ranch” spin. While consumer packaged goods budgets might not always allow for a partnership with the NFL, their take on a viral moment keeps their brand in the spotlight without breaking the bank.
Swift might be helping her own friends out, too.
Swift sat with Kelce’s mother Donna during her first appearance at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas. The following week, she showed up to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey with a large group of friends – Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Sabrina Carpenter, Antoni Porowski, to name a few. A celebrity with famous friends? Groundbreaking. But take a deeper look, and you might find a reason for her curated friends list: With the SAG-AFTRA strikes barring actors from promoting any works being released, why not use a heavily-publicized moment keep your name in the spotlight? Deadpool director Shawn Levy was also part of Swift’s entourage, hanging out with Reynolds. Deadpool 3 is to be released next May. Coincidence, or just two film franchise pals hanging out?
What's next in the playbook?
Every week brings more speculation as to whether Swift will be attending a game or not, and so brands may find themselves purchasing advertising slots during games. With a new niche of female fans, the opportunities go well beyond the mainstays of beer, gambling, and junk food. And a new demographic of consumers can go a long with a brand’s marketing strategy, especially on social media. They’ve bought the product and now they’re following the company – maintain the relationship by gaining their confidence and offering content that relates to them, as well as discounts, promo codes, and other offers that will keep them coming back for more.
Swift’s presence at NFL games, not to mention that of her friends, is a strategic opportunity for brands to connect with a broad and passionate fan base. Leveraging her star power, or basing content off her more viral moments can help brands increase their reach, build brand loyalty, and create memorable marketing campaigns.
What’s next for Swift? The Super Bowl has long been the night for casual and non-football fans to tune in for commercials and the halftime show. But with every Swift appearance gaining more and more publicity, the NFL and Swifties alike may find themselves with a mini Swift Bowl on their hands every time she rolls up to a stadium. Opportunities are ripe for brands looking to capitalize on football’s fandom, and the fanbase Swift has brought to the league.
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