How Taylor Swift Scores Big for NFL Brand Engagement
- Branding strategies explored. Leverage organic growth and brand authenticity for lasting impact in the market.
- Brand authenticity matters. Genuine connections between brand and audience enhance customer loyalty and trust.
- Enhancing customer engagement. Cultivating new demographics through relatable narratives expands reach and deepens engagement.
As a child, I grew up in the greatest sporting region of this great country.
Where the Super Bowl trophies were minted consecutively, where rings were formed and shaped, where Tom Brady shattered records and where the blueprint for the modern dynasty was written. There was nothing better than being a Patriots fan knowing that every single season, we had a chance to win it all. Even better than knowing that we were likely going to win, was getting to watch it with friends, family and new people that we’d meet at local watering holes who also happened to be Patriots fans. That team and its players brought people together — for the better.
Related Article: Great Brands Respect Their Customers: 3 Rules to Keeping it Authentic
Brand Authenticity Through an Unexpected Catalyst
And though the Patriots’ reign has ended, prompting fans to “Shake It Off,” a new dynasty emerges with the Kansas City Chiefs. This fresh powerhouse serves as an unexpected catalyst, drawing new viewers to the NFL — a goal long sought by the league.
And that unexpected catalyst just so happens to be the world’s (and maybe universe’s) biggest artist. The one and only Taylor Swift.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this NFL season, you know that Taylor Swift is currently dating the star tight end of the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce. With that, has come some questions from the internet sleuths around the validity of this newly formed “Love Story.” Some say it’s fake, some say the NFL scripted it — others say it’s politically driven.
But before we jump to conclusions, let us not forget that we have seen this situation play out before.
Where might you ask? Easy, our very own New England GOAT (greatest of all time) experienced this exact situation when he started dating Gisele Bündchen back in 2007.
Is this history repeating itself? It sure appears to be so. And guess what: the NFL loves it. Like, REALLY loves it. And guess what, so do I. Listen, I’m not the biggest T-Swift fan, that’s no secret — but I love it because it offers some important lessons in customer experience and brand authenticity.
Let’s take a walk through a great example of enhancing customer engagement, keeping in mind how to keep it organic and with brand authenticity.
Related Article: Unforgettable Customer Experiences Share a Common Trait: Authenticity
Past Stereotypical Branding Efforts
It’s no secret the NFL has always longed for a bigger female demographic, and at times the league has come under scrutiny for, as some would say, shallow stereotypical efforts to attract women to the sport. (Pink Jersey creation and breast cancer awareness campaigns.)
Related Article: Why Authentic Marketing Is Really Your Only Option
A New Chapter
But this time it’s much different. Why? Because the inclusion of Taylor Swift into the NFL’s limelight feels organic, natural and native.
And you know what? I’m all for it! The introduction of Taylor Swift is creating a whole new set of NFL fans and viewers — sound familiar? It should.
Every single brand in the world would love to have the opportunity to have someone like Taylor Swift endorse its brand. Her popularity and influence is massive, and there are some lessons here on how your brand can position itself to embrace the unexpected and ride the wave of hype and excitement to newly found customers and brand authenticity.
Related Article: A Survival Story: Lessons in Authenticity & Audience
Tip No. 1: Embrace Customer Stories
Like it or not, the NFL is not a sport — it’s a brand, a massive brand and Taylor Swift’s face time within the NFL is branding gold. However, the NFL and the networks could have easily decided not to enable her attendance to the game (which would be the dumbest thing they could do). Instead, they embraced the story.
But honestly, were they actually NOT supposed to? Some news outlets are giving the NFL grief over publicizing her attendance. Every time Travis Kelce scores a touchdown, like clockwork — it’s a camera view of the box seats where Taylor is sitting — celebrating in full force. This strategy gives Swifties what they want — a connection to someone they deeply admire. And though Taylor’s team likely loves the exposure, I truly believe she couldn’t care less. She just wants to watch her man play, ya know?
Related Article: The Art of Storytelling for Brands and Marketers
Increasing Customer Lifetime Value
What you must understand about Taylor Swift and her popularity is this — yes, she’s an amazing vocalist — but she’s an even better song writer. And though I may be biased as I too always enjoy a good wordsmith session — her fans have grown up reading, listening and feeling her lyrics “All Too Well.” For Taylor’s fans, getting to see her fall for someone, and experience “real life” things that we all go through in relationships is truly increasing Taylor’s stock and lifetime value amongst her fans.
Brands can and should take a page out of this book and find customer stories that are relatable to the core of whatever it is the brand is trying to achieve — and then promote the heck out of them.
Tip No. 2: Play by the Rules
The NFL has previously manufactured various strategies to try to pull the female demographic into the sport as we have already discussed. However, with this being a seemingly organic, natural happening — the NFL is by all means, playing by the rules.
In fact, the NFL is (knowingly or unknowingly) leveraging a marketing tool and tactic that’s been around for quite some time — native advertising. Native advertising is the idea of incorporating brand content into a medium without it feeling like an ad.
In this use case, the NFL always wanted a bigger female demographic, but their past attempts felt forced. This time around though, boy meets girl, boy invites girl to football game, boy and girl start dating. It just so happens that the girl is the most recognizable person on planet earth and has an army of fans that follow her every move.
Dialing It Back
But I know what you’re thinking: Are you sure the NFL didn’t manufacture this? Listen, I get it. It wouldn’t be that far out of left field to consider this as a preplanned event. In fact, when Taylor first started to attend NFL games, the league and the networks overloaded her screen time — it was obvious and a bit too much for traditional NFL fans. However, they have since appeared to dial it back and are starting to play by the rules.
Tip No 3: Be Authentic
But back to this potentially being a manufactured, orchestrated event. I simply find that unlikely considering that would be off brand for Taylor Swift — she’s as authentic as it comes, and prides herself on that with her music and her presence with fans. So, with that in mind, that isn’t something she would embrace and she for sure doesn’t want any of that “Bad Blood.”
What’s more likely is the NFL and the networks just happened to get lucky, and this time embraced her presence and played by the rules. (At least for now).
Keep It Intuitive
If you’re a brand and a celebrity, and a customer’s story presents itself in an opportunistic way, you must play by the rules — yes, you can embrace and promote the buzz, but make sure you do so in a native, natural and intuitive way. Let the story take center stage and be in the driver’s seat, simply sit back and let the story unfold the way it was meant to, and enable your entire customer base access to the story.
Establishing a New Fan Base
The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Fransico 49ers Sunday, Feb. 11 in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. Dubbed the Super Bowl with the highest ticket prices of all time, there’s no question its viewership will break records, but I predict not in the ways you think. I foresee a massive new demographic of Gen Z’s and overall new fan bases flocking to their TV’s to watch sports biggest stage.
As you can imagine, Taylor Swift will be in attendance, but she will be cutting it close. Currently she’s smack in the middle of her “Eras” tour, and will be performing in Tokyo, Japan, on Feb. 10, meaning she will have to rush to the airport immediately after the show, hop on a plane and fly directly to Las Vegas to arrive in time for the big game.
And let me say this, there’s no doubt she will make it on time. Because even though the script may already be written, it wouldn’t be a “Love Story” without a frantic mad dash, across an ocean at the last possible minute, to see her man win Super Bowl 58.
(27–23, Chiefs, and Taylor’s boyfriend scores twice!)
Learn how you can join our contributor community.