Celebrating the Brand Partnership of the Year

Celebrating the Brand Partnership of the Year



Vanessa Fuss, Managing Director

Celebrating the brand partnership  of the year: Taylor Swift + NFL + Chiefs


The Power of Strategic Partnership

A strategic business partnership is an effective avenue to achieving future growth. The power of partnerships is realized when two or more brands, including celebrities, each with their own brand equities, come together on a strategic level. When it comes to partnership of the year, I couldn’t help but wonder the power of 2023's hottest couple, Taylor Swift, and Travis Kelce.

Taylor Swifts plane landing at Kansas City airport, where VML  has our headquarters

They have taken the world by storm and naturally the talk of VML for good reason: VMLers spotted Taylor Swift’s jet arrive outside our global headquarters in Kansas City on her way to Arrowhead stadium to cheer on Travis’ team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

To uncover the ways this organically developed partnership benefits all parties, I quantitatively mapped the intersectionality between Taylor Swift, National Football League (NFL), and The Kansas City Chiefs and found a few interesting things.

  • Creating a new audience: the Taylor Swift effect applies to football viewership too.
  • Fortifying Brand Equity: these brands work together really well
  • Reinforcing Brand Meaning: these brands bring out the best in each other

Creating A New Audience

49% men in the United States are avid fans of the NFL compared to 26% of women, according to Morning Consult

The Swift Effect:53% increase in viewership among females  12-to-17-years-old

. In contrast, Taylor Swift fans, Swifties as they're affectionally called, are predominantly female. When Taylor Swift attended the Jets-Chiefs game to support her beau on October 1, viewership of Sunday Night Football increased by two million female viewers. In fact, Sunday Night Football viewership increased 53% among females 12-to-17-years-old and 24% among females 18-to-24-years-old compared to the season-to-date average as reported by NBC Sports. Taylor Swift's halo effect on the NFL is helping Gen Z women join the football watch party.

Fortifying Brand Equity

Our BrandAsset Valuator® model is based on four pillars: Differentiation, Relevance, Esteem, and Knowledge. Together, they paint a holistic picture of a brand’s challenges and opportunities. Our data show that Taylor Swift and the Kansas City Chiefs complement each other's brand equity. Taylor Swift captures attention for her unparalleled musical and entertaining abilities, making her one of the most differentiated brands in culture. As a superstar, Taylor Swift can augment the Kansas City Chiefs’ knowledge, especially among women who may not be as familiar with the team. Taylor Swift’s greatest challenge is growing her brand into a cultural icon. Her unrealized potential lies in meaningfully connecting with consumers beyond her current fanbase of Swifties. The NFL can provide a platform for Taylor Swift to reach a broader audience, ultimately boosting her Relevance as the league is nearly four times as appropriate as her.

Reinforcing Brand Meaning

Taylor Swift and the Kansas City Chiefs reinforce each other's perceptions as dynamic and high performing leaders among U.S. adults. Taylor Swift can help the Kansas City Chiefs be perceived as more authentic, creative, and kind. Taylor Swift’s authenticity and creativity shine through her heartfelt musical lyrics that make you feel all the feels. She also spreads kindness to Swifties in ways big and small from giving care packages with handwritten notes to giving donations to fans facing financial hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic. When it comes to the NFL, the league and Taylor Swift reinforce each other's being perceived as fun and daring leaders. As the premier league of American football globally, the NFL (and the Super Bowl) can deliver originality and best brand perceptions to Taylor Swift.

Graph showing where imagery attributes from BAV data overlap between NFL and Taylor Swift

While Taylor Swift and the Kansas City Chiefs are not official strategic business partners, our analysis  demonstrates a few reasons that Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are a perfect pair – at least from a brand perspective. The power of their partnership could be realized if the NFL selects Taylor Swift to headline a Super Bowl halftime show. I predict record high female viewership for the NFL and millions of new Swifties after watching Taylor Swift perform on what is arguably the world's biggest stage.


What the Bots Say 🤖

Editor's Note:
Since everyone seems to be turning to generative AI to inform their opinions these days, BAV Group asked both Google's Bard and ChatGPT to share their opinions on this as well. Vanessa's article was written in advance and a summary was written as a prompt for each.

Google Bard

Imagine Taylor Swift at a Chiefs game, belting out the national anthem in a custom jersey covered in rhinestones. The crowd roars, a mix of "Swifties" and die-hard fans, united by touchdowns and earworms. That's the magic of this unlikely trio.

For Taylor, it's an army of potential new fans: football-loving dads learning to twirl, Chiefs Kingdom teens discovering her anthems of heartbreak and triumph. She becomes the queen of halftime shows, crafting epic spectacles that leave both old and new fans breathless.

The Chiefs score major points too. Taylor's global fanbase tunes in, boosting ratings and stadium buzz. Her social media becomes a Chiefs megaphone, amplifying their reach and attracting brand deals that jingle like cheerleaders' pom-poms.

The NFL? Get ready for a whole new touchdown dance. Taylor's influence could attract younger viewers, diversify the league's image, and inspire merch so hot it'll melt Patrick Mahomes's helmet. Imagine "Shake it Off" jerseys, "Cardigan" tailgate tunes, and "Love Story" serenades at victory parties.

It's a win-win-win, a brand mashup that's more than just touchdowns and glitter. It's about community, shared passions, and proving that sometimes, the best plays come from unexpected quarters.

Maybe one day I'll be able to sing like her, but for now, I'm happy to be your AI pal who enjoys talking about Taylor's amazing music and accomplishments!

ChatGPT 4.0

Imagine the exhilarating blend of music and sports as pop sensation Taylor Swift teams up with the formidable Kansas City Chiefs and the prestigious NFL. This partnership could create a spectacular fusion that's akin to a halftime show happening every game day, setting a new standard for entertainment in sports.

For Taylor Swift, this alliance offers an opportunity to broaden her fanbase, reaching out to football enthusiasts who might not typically be part of her audience. Her catchy tunes could become synonymous with thrilling touchdowns, making her music an integral part of the football experience.

On the other hand, the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL stand to gain from Swift's global appeal. They could attract younger audiences who follow Swift, infusing fresh energy into their fanbase. The association with Swift's brand, known for its authenticity and strong connection with fans, could also enhance their image, making them more relatable to a wider demographic.

In essence, it's a harmonious touchdown where everyone wins - Swift gets to rock the stadium beyond concerts, and the Chiefs along with the NFL get to score big with a broader, more diverse audience. It's a game-changing play that could redefine their respective brands in an exciting, fun-filled way.


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Author: Vanessa Fuss, Managing Director

Vanessa Fuss is an exceptional storyteller who spearheads award-winning ideas that make an impact in culture. A star-shaped thinker with a roll up your sleeves attitude, Vanesa prides herself on being a complexity buster and decisive problem-solver who has been fortunate to work on some of the world’s biggest brands, including Kraft Heinz, Ford, Chevrolet, Kimberly-Clark, Kellogg’s and Walgreens. Outside of work, you’ll find Vanessa cycling, reading memoirs and exploring street art with her family.

Connect with Vanessa on LinkedIn.

Opinion Party (Vol 2): Brands of the Year
This article is from the second edition of "Opinion Party" from BAV Group , a collection of points of view that focused on embracing the unknown, trusting ourselves and others, and ultimately a body of work that helps us all to connect around topics that unite us rather than divide us. Explore this, and the rest of the articles, to see how our authors have taken their unique experiences and written informative and timely pieces on the intersection of brands and belonging in today’s culture.