Brand Strategy

Marketing (Taylor’s Version): Why brands keep embracing Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

Marketers are all-in on the relationship—but there may be risks that come with overcapitalizing on it.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

· 6 min read

One Monday in November, Missouri-based marijuana dispensary chain Greenlight Dispensary found itself with more than 2,000 new customers thanks to Taylor Swift.

That’s because Greenlight offered 13% off (a reference to Swift’s favorite number) to customers who used the discount code “Swiftie” or mentioned the promotion that day. It was one of a few promotions from the dispensary designed to capitalize on the pop star’s possible appearances at Kansas City Chiefs games to support her boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce, CEO John Mueller told Marketing Brew. That night, the Chiefs lost and Swift didn’t show, but the promo, Mueller said, was “a huge win for us.”

Greenlight is far from the only company just saying “yes” to this love story. Since Swift and Kelce’s relationship went public, marketers have found just about every way possible to engage with the couple’s star power, which has only risen since Swift was named Time’s Person of the Year in December. Even the NFL itself has found ways to leverage the relationship to boost its brand, with one exec saying that it’s helped the league grow its audience (...and maybe the number of bracelet exchanges happening during games).

Brands like State Farm and Chipotle said their couple-centric marketing blitzes this season have been good for business—or at least brand awareness. Headed into 2024 and the end of the NFL season, though, brands might have to grapple with the question of whether audiences will tire of Traylor.


State Farm was one of the lucky few brands that already happened to have a relationship with Kelce prior to his newest claim to fame, Head of Marketing Alyson Griffin told Marketing Brew. But when State Farm wanted to make an impact, it wasn’t Travis who the brand called. It was his brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce, and mother, Donna Kelce, both of whom were spotted hanging out with the insurance company’s spokesperson Jake from State Farm at an Eagles game on Oct. 1, one week after Swift made her first appearance at a Chiefs game.


Griffin said the brand wanted to find a way to stand out among all the buzz without coming across as overly opportunistic or seeming to make fun of either half of the couple.

“I liked the angle of Jason and Jason’s mom,” Griffin said. “They were already getting a lot of attention for Travis and Taylor, and we didn’t want to compete with that. We wanted to enhance it.”

One could say that campaign…hit different, and after Jake and Donna showed up on the broadcast coverage of the Eagles game, State Farm saw a 15% boost to its typical increase in online engagement after a broadcast exposure, Griffin said. The cameo was covered again during the Sunday Night Football broadcast of the Chiefs game, resulting in exposure that Griffin said would have equaled 300 primetime ads—“quite literally something you couldn’t pay for.”

In total, Jake from State Farm’s celebrity sighting racked up over 2.5 billion impressions, 260,000 engagements, and more than 400 media placements, Griffin told us. But since then, State Farm has been conspicuously absent from the Swift-Kelce discourse, and Griffin said she plans to keep it that way for now. “We don’t want to just keep doing the same joke over and over again,” she said.

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Some jokes, though, are too good to pass up. Chipotle found that to be the case when, in mid November, Swifties did what they do best and looked deep into Kelce’s past, turning up the tight end’s decade-old tweets, including the instantly classic “just gave a squirle a peice of bread.”

In another post, Kelce wrote that he was in need of “some #chipolte,” misspelling the brand name. When Chipotle’s social team caught wind of the post, the brand’s account quote-tweeted it with “it’s me, hi,” referencing a popular lyric from Swift’s hit single “Anti-Hero.”

That quote tweet now has close to 2 million views and 15,000 likes, making it “one of the most engaged-with pieces on our platform this year,” Erin Wolford, Chipotle’s VP of external communications, told us in an email. Several days later, Chipotle took the post a step further, renaming a Kansas City restaurant near Arrowhead “Chipolte” ahead of a Monday night Chiefs game.

Is it over now?

Molly Barth, senior cultural strategist at consultancy sparks & honey, compared the continued interest in the duo to the intrigue around unexpected brand partnerships. “People are really hungry for that cross-cultural connection,” she said.

Case in point: After it was rumored that Swift would attend a Chiefs game with her parents, TV advertising company Tatari “had 18 clients jump into buying TV ad spots during that game,” SVP of Marketing Amit Sharan said in an email. (He noted that it probably didn’t hurt that the game was a Super Bowl rematch between the Chiefs and the Eagles.)

It also doesn’t hurt that both have big reputations: Swift is relatively non-polarizing, Barth said, and Kelce’s public persona is “relatable and down-to-earth” (see again: the “squirle” tweet). Some brands agree: Griffin said that the duo’s squeaky-clean reputation was “absolutely” one of the reasons State Farm decided to do what it did with the Kelce family.

The cultural novelty of this couple, though, may not extend into 2024, especially as more brands jump into the fold. “I definitely do think that we’re gonna see it get oversaturated pretty quickly,” Barth said. It can happen fast, like it did when brands piled onto the “seemingly ranch” trend, she said activations around the couple can get “really repetitive” and lose their luster.

Kelce himself said in October that he felt the NFL was “overdoing it a little bit” when it came to the amount of attention given to Swift and their relationship. Swift, on the other hand, recently told Time that she has “no awareness of if [she’s] being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads, and Chads.”

If brands do choose to continue talking about Traylor, Barth advises doing so only where it makes sense, like in the case of Chipotle’s tweet. “You really need to make sure that there is a clear connection for people,” she said.

Of course, that’s not a hard and fast rule, and so long as Swift remains the most famous person in the world and one-half of one of the most famous couples in the country, Barth expects that “brands are gonna do it anyway.”

In other words, they wanna be Traylor’s end game.

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