Taylor Swift’s star has never shined brighter. From her blockbuster Eras Tour to her recent NFL appearances, the pop star has become a beacon of economic success. Even brands not directly associated with her have felt the benefits from the Swift Army, or attempted to get in on the hype.
Notably, her rumored relationship with Kansas City Chief tight end Travis Kelce has raised the profile of advertising campaigns in which he features significantly. For example, two Campbell Soup ads featuring the tight end drove 287% more engagement than ads not featuring Kelce, according to data shared with Marketing Dive by Edo. After Swift attended a game, ad effectiveness went up 4%.
A Pfizer ad featuring Kelce has been 27% more effective at driving engagement than those without him. Those who saw the Pfizer creative on TV, which depicted the football star getting his COVID-19 booster and flu shot at the same time, were 32% more likely to engage with the brand online after Swift’s first game appearance, according to Edo.
“Her massive fan base is incredibly supportive of brand campaigns and TV programs that feature the artist,” said Kevin Krim, CEO of Edo, in a statement to Marketing Dive. “Now we’re also seeing Swift’s association with other talent, like Travis Kelce, also lift the performance of their ads, at least in the context of the relationship such as during an NFL game that she’s attending.”
With the Eras Tour set to end in November of 2024 and a tour film releasing this month, Swift mania is not likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. Just how long the intensity can hold has yet to be seen.
The rumored relationship between Swift and Kelce brings together two of the biggest forces in American culture: pop music and the NFL. While Kelce already was a brand darling, Swift has helped to rapidly expand his fan base. In many ways, her fans have become his and vice versa. Sales of Kelce’s jersey saw a 400% increase after Swift first appeared at Kelce’s games. The surge in sales moved Kelce from being the 19th-ranked NFL player in terms of jersey sales to the top five.
This popularity by association may leave many marketers questioning how to take advantage of the situation, or even if they should. One simple solution for brands already involved with the pop star or tight end is simply increasing the frequency of those campaigns. For example, DirectTV saw a 57% increase in effectiveness of ads featuring Kelce compared to those not featuring the Chiefs player. DirectTV has actually been airing fewer of its advertisements with Kelce as its overly direct sportsperson in recent weeks, according to Krim. Simply airing more of them is an easy way to take advantage of the hype.
“Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are the perfect marriage (or just good friends?) of the two most popular and enduring American pastimes: pop music and the NFL,” said Krim. “They have the ability to connect with people of all ages, genders, and locations. Hiring either star for an ad campaign would prove fruitful for any brand, based on our data.”
Swift’s influence also has significant staying power, according to the executive. The pop star has taken steps to build a loyal following through fan experiences and a robust online presence. This has paid off significantly for her in terms of commercial success. Her work with Capital One promoting the Venture X card has proven to be one of the marketers most successful campaigns. Those who saw the commercials were 50% more likely to engage with Capital One online compared with the brand average for the year.
“Swift’s decades-long rise to pop superstardom has proven that she has long-term staying power, and her fans are likely to continue buying whatever she’s selling — as seen in ad performance for brands that highlight Swift in their campaigns,” Krim said.
A match made in (marketing) heaven
While Kelce himself has said the NFL is overdoing it in terms of promoting around Swift, brands don’t seem ready to back off. The pairing is seemingly too good to resist. The NFL itself has even issued a statement defending its promotion of the suspected couple.
The match has also allowed the league to make inroads with young, female consumers, a demographic it has often struggled to reach. The Sept. 24 game between the Chiefs and the Bears (which ended in a 41-10 blowout in favor of the Chiefs), was the highest rated game that week in terms of women ages 12 to 49. Compared to the previous Chiefs game, viewership by women between the ages of 18 and 49 rose 63%.
The NFL even went so far as to briefly change its Instagram account to say the “Chiefs are 2-0 as Swifties.” However, while leaning into Swift mania has absolutely helped the league in the short term, if it continues its intense focus on the Chiefs, it may begin to seem the league is showing the Kansas City team special treatment. This has already become apparent after uproar occurred around a controversial call during the surprisingly close Chiefs vs. Jets game on Oct. 1.
And while the numbers are really good right now, who is to say things won’t go south? Relationships are complicated, and Swifties aren’t quick to forget (just ask Jake Gyllenhaal).
“Would the Swift Effect continue to benefit the NFL and Travis Kelce if their relationship ended?” asked Krim. “That answer, unfortunately, is one we can’t predict with data.”