Marketing and the Taylor Swift Effect

By: Olivia Gerling
Category: The Bottom line

Calling all PR professionals and Swifties! Look what you made me do – I’m talking about writing this blog post, of course. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, then you’ve probably heard that pop sensation, Taylor Swift, and Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce, are Lovers. And social media is going crazy. 

 But why, exactly, is this so important? We’ve seen other high-profile athletes dating supermodels, actresses, and singers. But the difference between those relationships and the one between Taylor and Travis is the marketing that has gone along with it, thus resulting in many people wondering if the relationship is real, at all. 

I’m not saying that Taylor and Travis have done any marketing – they haven’t unless you count Travis publicly pursuing Taylor. However, it’s clear the NFL refuses to let the fanbase shake off this romance. Why? I’m going to take you on a deep dive into why the organization may be Enchanted by the popularity of Taylor Swift. 

Statistics…Are you Ready for It?

Let’s look at some important numbers surrounding our Fearless duo. In just 24 hours since Taylor Swift’s appearance at the Chiefs versus Bears game: 

  • Travis gained 300k new Instagram followers; 
  • a 400% increase in merchandise sales;  
  • became the top-selling jersey in the NFL; and, 
  • he and his brother’s podcast, New Heights, shot to number one in the Apple store. 

That sounds like something that might only happen in the NFL’s Wildest Dreams. However, it seems the National Football League has hit the jackpot. In 2019, Statista released information stating that 62 percent of people in line for Taylor Swift concert tickets were females. As of April 2023, 42 percent of all women consider themselves not fans of the NFL at all, and 35 percent were only casual fans, much different from the 51 percent of men who claimed to be avid fans. When Taylor Swift showed up at the Chiefs game – aka, the next great American dynasty of football – it seemed the NFL knew All Too Well what they needed to do next. 

 For those of you who aren’t NFL fans, you may not know that over the past couple of years, the league has tried to market to a wider audience of people. In fact, they have gone as far as hosting games in other countries, such as England and Germany. As an organization, the NFL has been continuously trying to get more people involved in watching their games. However, it seems they hadn’t quite realized that the people should have been targeting all along were in their home country: women. 

 NFL Marketing – Everything Has Changed

With the revelation known as the “Taylor Swift Effect” rocking every corner of social media, it only makes sense that companies would be the Foolish One if they didn’t try to capitalize. Already, we’ve seen Heinz Ketchup releasing a new line of limited-edition ketchup and ranch called “Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch,” named in honor of the viral post of Taylor eating chicken at the game.  

 The NFL on Fox social media accounts have also started using another popular trend for their marketing. It seems that fan bases are undecided on whether Taylor and Travis are actually dating, or if it’s a publicity stunt. Many Swifties believe the Love Story is real, but it has been up for debate with some fans going as far as making TikToks and lengthy Twitter posts where fans search for clues to analyze the relationship. 

Companies have also gotten creative in other ways. In one of the more controversial takes for NFL fans, after the appearance of Taylor at the Chiefs-Bears game, the NFL organization briefly changed its Twitter bio to “NFL (Taylor’s Version).” If you don’t know what this means, here’s a refresher – “Taylor’s Version” refers to the new releases she is recording of her old albums, which essentially give her full rights to the masters of her albums which she didn’t previously have before. In other words, “Taylor’s Version” means she owns it. Oops. 

Still, the NFL is continuing to ride high on the Taylor Swift hype and the increased sales and viewership. It was no surprise to learn that the Chiefs versus Jets game was the most watched Sunday show since Super Bowl LVII, peaking at more than 29 million viewers in the second quarter as people tried to catch a glimpse of Taylor on their screens. Announcers got in on it too, making many references to Miss Americana throughout the night. In fact, it was difficult not to find a stream that mentioned Taylor Swift, as many channels included game previews referencing the pop sensation. 

Even news stations across the U.S. were making references to Taylor. Whether polls were posted, questions were asked, or contests were featured, every company and news organization seemed to be taking part in the hottest current news cycle. That included the NFL’s very own men in Red. Since Taylor’s first appearance in Kansas City in September, Chief’s social media pages have seen a major surge in followers and engagements. The Twitter page saw an 85.05% increase in engagement as Swifties hopped on the Travis Kelce train.  

That was, in part, due to the team being aware of their newfound fame and giving Taylor fans what they wanted. In one tweet, before the Kansas City Chiefs played the New York Jets in the Big Apple, the Chiefs tweeted a picture of Travis with the caption “SPOTTED: @tkelce at football game.” Seeing Travis at a football game is not new, but it puts a cheeky spin on all the press Taylor Swift gets during her day-to-day routine. And, of course, the Swifties following the Chiefs account were mostly there for Travis pictures, anyway. 

Call it What You Want… We Call it a Conclusion

Only time will tell if the couple will last, but it’s clear the media hype surrounding the pair will continue to be the biggest highlight in the news for the foreseeable future. The NFL continues to capitalize off the star power of Taylor Swift and popular tight end, Travis Kelce, which means we’ll continue to see other organizations following the NFL’s lead. If your marketing plans don’t involve Taylor Swift in them right now, it’s time to make a Change. 

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