The “Taylor Swift effect”

The power of Swifties

Published by James Cressman, Date: October 5, 2023
Taylor Swift watched Kansas City Chiefs game in Private booth
Taylor Swift attends Kansas City Chiefs Game

Like the title of her song “Style,” Taylor Swift showed up in just that to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Chicago Bears at Arrowhead Stadium on Sun. Sept. 24. It was not her attendance at the game that turned heads, but who she attended the game with.

Swift made her second appearance at a Kansas City Chiefs game over the weekend, on Sun. Oct. 1, 2023. This time she was accompanied by an entourage of celebrity friends, including Blake Lively, Sophie Turner, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman.

At the Sept. 24 game, Swift could be seen watching from a private suite with the family of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Swift’s appearance at the game not only turned heads in the stands but on the field as well. Several Kansas City Chiefs players were visibly surprised when they realized Swift was in the private booth.

During the game, Swift could be seen cheering Kelce and the Chiefs on along with Kelce’s mother while sporting a Chiefs jacket. According to The New York Times, since Swift’s appearance at the game, sales on Travis Kelce’s jersey have seen a nearly 400% spike. The jersey can be found on the NFL Shop and is currently priced between $125 to $175.

In order to leave the suite without causing mass chaos, several fans online have begun speculating that Swift exited the suite inside a popcorn cart. Swift has been known for her creative ways in which she enters and exits venues.

After the game, CBS Sports reported that Kelce reserved the rooftop of a local Kansas City restaurant, Prime Social. The Rocket reached out to the restaurant to inquire about the post-game celebrations but was told by management that they were “not at liberty to discuss” the Kelce reservation.

A photo taken of the pair at Prime Social was shared by TMZ showing the pair sitting together with Swift wrapping her arm around Kelce’s neck.

The Daily Mail reported that Kelce gained 300,000 social media followers within the first 24 hours of Swift’s appearance at the game. The publication has dubbed the rise in followers and jersey sales “the Taylor Swift effect.”

Steve Radick, an executive vice president for the PR firm BCW, spoke about “the Taylor Swift effect” from a PR perspective and what it means for Kelce and Swift. Radick pointed out that Swift’s appearance at the game has everyone talking and asking “how to associate their brands with Taylor Swift,” in ways that they may not have been able to before.

During the Sept. 24 game, Swift was seen eating a chicken wing with ranch sparking conversation on social media with fans connecting with Swift over their shared love of dipping chicken wings into ranch.

When asked about how the “Taylor Swift effect” would benefit Kelce, Radick explained that given Kelce’s status in the NFL, he is already a superstar within his own realm. Kelce has a large following of football fans. According to Radick, Kelce has reached new heights through his podcast and his appearance in Campbell’s Soup commercials and has ascended to the upper echelon of NFL stardom.

For Swift, however, this is the opportunity for her to break into what Radick calls the “third space.” Swift is usually commanding from a stage. Now, she has the opportunity to attend football games in the public eye like anyone else but still captivate audiences.

This does not mean that football followers are going to rush into stores or download Swift’s songs on their phones. Attending these games means that Swift can still be a commanding presence while not being the star. She is attending as a fan, friend or possibly even as a girlfriend.

Given their completely different career paths, they both bring different demographics together. Since Swift’s first appearance at Kelce’s game, there has been a show of Swifties asking questions about football. For the NFL, this has opened a completely new demographic to the organization that might not have been available before.

Some are wondering if the “Taylor Swift effect” will begin to wear off should Swift and Kelce part ways. According to Radick, there will not be a downtrend for Kelce in the event that that happens. Fans will be asking who will he be connected to next.

Radick believes that both Swift and Kelce have strong enough orbits that they do not need one another. Kelce has a huge social media following outside of sports which is beneficial to him. Radick explained that Kelce has an “everyman quality’ remaining active on social media, connecting with fans through his podcast, and even hosting Saturday Night Live.

The Rocket reached out to the producer of Kelce’s podcast, Zach Schwartz, in an attempt to receive a comment from Kelce. Schwartz did respond to our request, “I appreciate the hustle but no comment, sorry.”

Swift’s fans, known as “Swifties,” are known for being some of the most passionate fans in music. Some of them have posted on social platforms such as TikTok about wearing diapers to Swift’s concerts so as not to miss anything.  In August, Insider reported on one fan who spent $5,500 on resale tickets to one of Swift’s stops on her Eras Tour.

According to a report on CNN, at one of the stops on the tour, Swifties became so overjoyed in the stadium that they caused the equivalent of a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.

According to Time Magazine, Swift’s appearance at the Sept. 24 game caused ticket sales on the ticketing platform Stubhub to increase by 175% for the Chiefs-Jets game.

There has been skepticism on social media by fans and onlookers who have questioned whether or not this entire ordeal is a PR stunt. The Rocket asked Steve Radick for his perspective on this. Radick offered that anyone looking at this situation with a “healthy dose of skepticism” is warranted.

Radick explained that he would not be surprised should it turn out in a month or so to be a PR stunt, but he also would not be surprised if it was legitimate. From a PR stance, brands should be asking the question, how can we attach ourselves to this?

The Rocket reached out to the publicists for both Swift and Kelce, as well as the communications director for the Kansas City Chiefs, for a comment on the status of the alleged relationship and Swift’s appearances at the games but did not receive a response prior to publication.

For now, Swifties will have to patiently wait to see how this story unfolds.


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