Unexpected Touchdowns: What Kelce & Swift Teach Us About Social Media Magic

This article comes to us from the Speaking Human University Program, which gives voice to the opinions and perspectives of the next generation of consumers and marketers… 

The 2023 NFL season wasn’t just about touchdowns and interceptions. It was also about friendship bracelets, record-breaking jersey sales, and a “Love Story” for the ages.

When Taylor Swift first arrived at the Chiefs game in September, it caught the attention of millions. However, it’s not just their love story that’s captivating; it’s the marketing magic they’re sprinkling like Super Bowl confetti.

Beyond the headlines, their relationship offers a fascinating case study that holds valuable lessons for social media creators. Let’s unpack this “Love Story” and see what we can learn.

  1. “Sparks Fly” When You Leverage Emotion & Human Co-Branding

    Together, 3-Time Super Bowl Champ, Kelce, and 14-time Grammy-winning artist, Swift, boast a social media following of over 500 million (Butler, 2023). Their powerhouse influence extends across diverse demographics from football fanatics to “Swifities”. Since the start of this fantasy, Swift has generated $331.5 million for the Chiefs and the NFL, primarily from social media press from games, Kelce’s jersey sales have increased over 400%, and 53% more girls aged 12-17 are tuning into games (Ash, 2024). The NFL has also embraced its change from “bro culture” to “NFL (Taylor’s Version)” on X (Alfred, 2023).

    Brands must create fun and emotion-filled content to connect with fans on social media and bring their story to life.

  2. Authenticity Never Goes Out of Style

    In a world of carefully curated personas, Kelce and Swift’s genuine interactions on social media have resonated with fans. The “love story” began with Kelce’s playful mention on his New Heights Podcast that he was disappointed he couldn’t give Swift a friendship bracelet at her concert (Tiwari, 2024). Travis’ charismatic persona has propelled New Heights to be the #1 Sports Podcast on Apple and Spotify and resulted in a 309% growth in followers on Instagram (Scanlon, 2024). Personally, I am a part of the New Heights’ Club 92 and especially appreciated his shout out to Smucker’s Uncrustables (my employer).

    Instead of generic social media ads, brands must create an original story that humanizes the brand and creates a positive connection with their audience.

  3. Shake It Off: Manage Rumors and Negativity Gracefully; “Bad Blood” Doesn’t Build Brands

    During Swift’s first appearance at Arrowhead, 1 minute and 21 seconds of TV broadcast time was focused on the icon, disappointing many NFL fans (Devlin, 2023). When interviewing for Time’s Person of the Year, Taylor shared, “I’m just there to support Travis, I have no awareness if I’m pissing off a few dads, Brads, and Chads” (Freeman, 2023) which resulted in this hilarious social media post by Fox:

    When brands are faced with criticism or rumors, they must address them honestly and avoid getting drawn into unnecessary drama.

  4. Audience Expansion: You Belong with Me(n!) and Women

    Due to Taylor’s presence at games, conversations about football included fashion choices, celebrity gossip, and relatable lyrics, broadening the game’s appeal for many. In fact, the Super Bowl had a record-attendance of female viewers accounting for 47.5% (Novak, 2024)Many female fans were also fascinated by Swift’s game-day outfits, such as the puffer coat, she wore designed by 49ers wife, Kristin Juszczyk. After Juszczyk’s Instagram post received 1.6 million likes, she scored a licensing agreement with the NFL, has gained over half a million new Instagram followers, and became the hottest name in football fashion (Pelit, 2024).

    By recognizing the diverse interests of their audience, brands can reach beyond preconceived notions and connect with their fans in unexpected and meaningful ways.

“The End Game”

As the world of sports and entertainment continues to intersect through this relationship, the lessons learned from Kelce and Swift offers a playbook for creating a game-winning social media strategy. I predict brands will continue to lean into this narrative, like Cetaphil did during their Super Bowl ad by embracing the lessons learned this season, appealing to both dads and their daughters, in an authentic and emotional way (Nerkar, 2024).

After all, it’s never too late to “Shake It Off” and rewrite your brand’s social narrative with a dash of “Tayvis” magic. The next touchdown on social media might just be waiting for you to apply these lessons and write your own “Love Story” with consumers.

  • Alfred, L. (2023, October 11). The NFL’s latest marketing play: Taylor Swift. HubSpot Blog.
  • Ash, J. (2024, February 8). Taylor Swift brings NFL new teen fanbase, sending game viewership and merchandise purchases soaring. Fox Business.
  • Butler, A. (2023, September 28). Travis Kelce gains 1.3m followers after Taylor Swift attends Chiefs game. Yahoo! Sports.
  • Devlin, N. (2023, September 25). Taylor Swift doubles rumored boyfriend Travis Kelce’s screen time in Sunday NFL broadcast. CBS News.
  • Freeman, C. (2023, December 6). Taylor Swift doesn’t care about “pissing off a few dads, brads, and Chads” at Travis Kelce’s NFL games. Yahoo! Sports.
  • Nerkar, S. (2024a, February 12). Ad nods to Taylor Swift and football, drawing cheers and criticism. The New York Times
  • Pelit, A. (2024, January 30). NFL grants license to Taylor Swift Jacket designer Juszczyk. Sportico.com.
  • Scanlon, K. (2024, February 6). How Taylor Swift Lit up advertisers’ super bowl playbooks. Digiday
  • Tiwari, U. (2024, January 3). Travis Kelce and Jason Kelce’s new heights podcast ranked No.1 by Apple amid frustrating NFL season. EssentiallySports.

AUTHOR: Halle Miller
ORIGIN: University Program — Speaking Human Contributor





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