S&E London: The Swiftification of the Super Bowl
By Toan Ravenscroft, Managing DirectorFeb, 2024
Toan Ravenscroft, managing director at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, London, dissects what is happening and what lessons we can learn from the Super Bowl x Swifties phenomenon.
Photo 262035396 | Taylor Swift © Starstock | Dreamstime.com
I have a confession to make. I am not a passionate Taylor Swift fan, nor a die-hard NFL fan.
Please don’t come at me Swifties, I just haven’t tuned in beyond my daughter’s Spotify requests.
And whilst the NFL is a global sports institution, I’ve never become fantasy football obsessed or routinely stayed up through the night.
But what I like doesn’t matter. What works, does.
And what we have seen in the last week is one of the most relevant case studies of what we harness for brands on a daily basis.
What is it?
It is the power of being relevant through people’s passions – the things they love.
It has sent fan communities wild and captured the attention of just about anyone who has opened social media or read the news.
In this case, uniting the fan communities of behemoths in sport (the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce) and entertainment (Taylor Swift), culminating at one of the biggest sport & entertainment moments on the calendar (the Super Bowl). Dynamite.
The power of passions and harnessing the coalescing communities that exist within them has not just sent marketing metrics through the roof; it has unlocked growth opportunities on a scale that perhaps only the most optimistic NFL or Taylor Swift marketer could have dreamt of.
Among teenage girls, NFL viewership has increased by 53 percent. Among the 18-24 age demographic, there has been an increase of 24 percent.
This is off the charts for such a mature and sophisticated entity.
Two of the most adept marketing and commercial machines, operating at full tilt, packed with experts that explore every opportunity and plan meticulously will have seen there is always an unexpected black swan that can help unlock another level of growth.
And whilst it may have fallen into their laps. They’ve run with it, with the gusto of a Super Bowl veteran seeking one last ring.
Bringing together two communities of huge scale isn’t new though, so why else has this one worked?
The authenticity at its heart has been crucial.
It’s a love story. The oldest trick in the book, but this is no trick. It’s heartstrings, the “are they aren’t they?” playing out on a global scale and its brought the eyeballs and engagement.
This is rare. This is powerful. And when it takes place in communities of loyal passionate followers who do not exist as passive fans but as meme-creating, details-obsessed, gossip sharing community builders – and then we add a shop window in the multiple hundreds of millions – the alchemy is magical.
There are lessons for partners and brands looking at this and taking pen to paper on new briefs.
And we will be getting briefs asking for “our version of the Taylor Swift effect”.
The ones who succeed will truly understand fan communities, how they act and interact; they will find that truly authentic, additive role to play that is on the pulse of what fan communities crave and creatively worth their time.
Get that right, and you’ll have a chance of turning marketing potential into brand building magic.
Ignore it, and you’ll be just another billboard on the Las Vegas strip.