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Love Story or Brand Strategy? How Taylor Swift’s Romance is Scoring Touchdowns for the NFL

Rosie Mallory
12 February 2024

Pop icon Taylor Swift’s relationship with Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce not only forms a high-profile celebrity couple but also unites two influential brand powerhouses.

The megastar's emotional embrace of her boyfriend following the Chiefs' victory at Super Bowl LVIII has gone viral following the rise of the so-called “Taylor Swift Effect.” Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy, valued the Kansas City Chiefs brand at a sizeable USD919 million in the most recent NFL brand ranking. It also ranked the Chiefs as the second-strongest NFL brand. Brand Finance determines brand strength and value based on data from over 10,000 sports fans worldwide. A strong brand attracts fans, players, investors, and sponsors, which boosts engagement and delivers more revenue through higher prices and sponsorships. Ultimately, a strong brand leads to higher commercial value and financial growth.

One of the bestselling music artists of all time, Swift’s authentic songwriting and close fan connection have built her into a cultural icon. While her 2023 Eras tour was enormously successful, grossing over USD450 million, her re-recorded albums and off-stage romance with Chiefs star Travis Kelce have further expanded her reach.

Cemented by Sunday’s triumphant Super Bowl win, this recent wave of Swift-dominated publicity has boosted the Chiefs’ already stellar brand power in several ways. According to Brand Finance’s research, NFL following among women increased 3% to 37% between October 2022 and October 2023, with male following dropping 1% to 53% across the same research period. Interestingly, this growth is reported in the older age groups (55-75).

Swift's influence extends beyond music, as it appears to have helped the NFL attract corporate sponsors and allowed brands to capitalise on the "Taylor Swift Effect." According to Brand Finance’s research, consideration of Nike is higher among NFL followers, with preference increasing from 37% to 41%. Nike is not only an official sponsor of the entire NFL but has also individually sponsored Kelce since 2013.

Among sports followers who engage with players on social media, there's a notable gender split, with 60% being male and 40% female. However, when it comes to purchasing merchandise, women represent 46% of buyers, indicating their significant contribution to team revenue.

Brands associated with Swift have experienced spikes in sales and website traffic, further highlighting the impact of her influence. Additionally, the NFL is expanding its popularity through partnerships with fashion brands affiliated with artists - including rapper Drake’s brand OVO last year - solidifying its position as a cultural phenomenon beyond the realm of sports.

All this seems to point to a winning strategy for the Chiefs and for the NFL brand more broadly, providing priceless publicity, bolstering merchandise sales, and enhancing the NFL’s already massive popularity on a global scale.

“Swift’s high-profile presence at Chiefs’ games and new affiliation with the league has resulted in a substantial increase in viewership among demographics like young women, as well as driving a considerable uptick in sponsorship opportunities, merchandise sales, and greater overall brand visibility for the Chiefs. These developments appear likely to contribute to a continued strengthening of the brand in 2024 on top of its already massive popularity.”

Alfred DuPuy, Valuation and Strategy Director, Brand Finance North America

The question: is the Swift effect just a temporary fad? Or can the singer really change the game for the power and popularity of American football? While she appears to have given the NFL's popularity an extra jolt, it's difficult to quantify Swift’s long-term impact amid the NFL's broader financial growth and massive existing fanbase. That said, whether this power couple scores or fumbles, Swift’s high-profile involvement in the league has already made it a season to remember.

About the Author

Rosie Mallory
Communications Executive
Brand Finance

Rosie joined the Brand Finance team in April 2023 as a Communications Executive. As well as assisting with a range of internal and external communications projects, she has a particular interest in writing on sectors including Cosmetics, Apparel, Tech and Sport.

Rosie gained a BA degree in English and French from the University of Nottingham in June 2022, having exercised her passion for languages across a range of cultural and linguistic modules, and completing a final dissertation in representations of feminism in 20th century French film.