A Business Perspective on Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s Relationship: A Merger of Worlds

Eva Rinaldi and All-Pro Reels via Flickr

By Brian Zhao

The whirlwind craze that is Taylor Swift’s and Travis Kelce’s relationship continues to sweep America, generating endless media attention from NFL fans and Swifties alike. Although many have been following the developments of the Swift-Kelce relationship with rapt attention, it is no question that the NFL, sports broadcasting networks, and local businesses around the nation have begun to capitalize on the burgeoning attention that the global superstar’s relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end has attracted, especially in regard to football. 

First, local businesses are aware of the growing diversity of customers purchasing and showing up to KC Chiefs games, as evidenced by an uptick in their production and sale of goods related to Taylor Swift. In fact, according to Business Insider, “the Kansas City vintage shop Westside Storey had its best weekend of sales ‘in a long time’,” in which “the shop has sold out of a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Who’s Travis Kelce Anyway? Ew’” — a play on the lyrics of Swift’s song,“22.” Westside Storey is also sold out on a “Red Zone Taylor’s Version” t-shirt and sweatshirt featuring images of Swift and Kelce.

It is not just clothing stores that have experienced the integration of Taylor Swift fans and Chiefs fans, as Kansas City’s Union Station movie theater has also sold over 7,300 tickets to the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” movie, as reported by Business Insider. Even local Kansas City food shops such as Donutology have adopted a creative edge in terms of marketing campaigns, in which they have received a tremendous surge of business due to the release of their Eras Tour-themed donuts. 

Not only are local businesses in Kansas City booming, but online retailers are also prospering. The media obsession with the romance focuses particular attention on the iconic friendship bracelet that represented Travis Kelce’s first attempt at wooing Taylor. Business Insider notes that images of the singer wearing the bracelet during games added fuel to the fire, causing sales of similar bracelets online to skyrocket by about 300%, increasing website traffic, engagement, and social media callouts. 

… there could be an opportunity to convert a portion of the new audience that has recently gained exposure to the NFL into long-term supporters.

In the past couple of weeks, the NFL has also experienced tremendous changes, with The Street reporting that “the NFL continued to hit season-high ratings” despite Taylor Swift’s absences, suggesting that there could be an opportunity to convert a portion of the new audience that has recently gained exposure to the NFL into long-term supporters. 

[T]he Chiefs’ social media account also grew by over 200,000 followers within one month.

There is no question that the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce himself have also received a surge in popularity. For instance, as per Bleacher Report, Kelce’s jersey sales increased by 400% across the Fanatics network of sites, and the Chiefs’ social media account also grew by over 200,000 followers within one month. When Taylor Swift made an appearance at the KC Chiefs-NY Jets game on Oct. 1, an average of 27 million people tuned in, with the largest demographic gains from 12 to 17 year old girls, 18 to 24 year old women, and women older than 35, making it “the most-watched Sunday TV program since the Super Bowl” according to Indiana Daily Student.

During an interview with TheStreet, Joe Favorito, a longtime strategic media consultant and professor for sports management at Columbia University, paints a full-picture summary of the relationship’s impact on the NFL’s viewership and global reach, noting that “[t]he place where the NFL benefits is globally … [t]he casual fans knew about it, but … Taylor Swift fans in Sweden and China, and South Africa — who had no interest in the NFL at all — suddenly found out about this guy named Travis Kelce. That’s where the value came into the NFL.” 

Through this relationship, Taylor Swift … is proving that her influence knows few boundaries

Evidently, the “Taylor Swift Effect” has not only drawn new viewers to the NFL but has also tied together two seemingly disparate industries – those of music and football. Through this relationship, Taylor Swift – who has already been noted for her impacts on GDP growth in the United States as a result of her “Eras Tour” – is proving that her influence knows few boundaries. Swift provides the NFL with both cultural relevance to a diverse demographic and exposure to a fanbase outside of the United States. 

By Brian Zhao

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