Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

The Taylor Swift Effect on Football: “Is it Too Soon to Do this Yet? ‘Cause I Know That It’s Delicate”


Written by: Angeline Close Scheinbaum

Dear Reader,

There is a lot to be said about the Taylor Swift effect on football– particularly the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs. So, let’s get this phenomenon off our chest, and get it off our desk. First, it is understood that her impact on the sport, league, and team is polarizing. Some football fans say that “she is ruining football,” while former NBA star Charles Barkley advocated for her, implying she is a gem to the sport. You know she won, so what’s the point of keeping score? In this writing, I will explore some themes that tie the business of sport and the Super Bowl in with ideals from her songwriting. These themes include the monetary aspect of the game, the expanded audience, and the overexposure of Taylor Swift’s human brand.

The economics and finance surrounding Super Bowl LVIII are astounding. First, ticket prices are up over 70% from last year. The average price of a ticket is 300% higher than a ticket from just ten years ago. $8,000 is the average minimum price to purchase a single nosebleed seat ticket, and some secondary ticket providers (such as Ticketmaster) require a minimum purchase of two tickets. Shockingly, the service fee to buy two tickets on the same websites adds an additional $1,300 to the total. With the rising costs of tickets, Super Bowl attendance has become a luxury good that is catered to celebrities and the corporate elite. Some wonder if the current Super Bowl attendance reflects the traditional target market of the hyper-loyal and, at times, rowdy fans who typically attend NFL games. With the surmounting prices of tickets, travel, and hotels during the Super Bowl, it is in our wildest dreams to afford this in-person luxury experience. However, dear readers, the greatest of luxuries is in your secrets. Even with the high price tag, the Super Bowl still draws in high numbers of T.V. watchers across the nation.

The audience of the Super Bowl represents the largest viewership of any televised content in the U.S. In 2023, according to Nielsen, the Super Bowl was watched by more than 113 million fans representing an extensive audience that transcends football fans. It appeals to lovers of advertising, humor, business, celebrities, music, entertainment, and pop culture. The Super Bowl is a uniquely “American holiday,” as it is filled with consumption rituals, social bonding, fandom, and family traditions found only in the United States. The Super Bowl, along with its advertisements and halftime performance, is of interest to a diverse range of psychographics, demographics, ages, and socioeconomic statuses. This year, the audience profile will be even more diverse, as we anticipate what I call “The Taylor Swift Effect,” which will draw in Taylor Swift fans of all ages. This audience is full of passion—we are young and reckless; we will take this WAY too far.

From a business lens, this affect transfer relates to consumption records for the all teams in the NFL, not just for the Kansas City Chiefs. Per data from the Sports Innovation Lab, when Taylor Swift first attended a Chiefs game, there was a record number of purchases related to the NFL. These purchases were made by all NFL fans across all 32 NFL teams. The sales came from the NFL app, NFL+, the team’s retail stores, Sunday Ticket, the NFL store, Gamepass, the Super Bowl, and even the NFL Foundation.

Given that her presence in football is polarizing, some have claimed a potential alienation of the NFL’s core target market, as many football fans have already expressed their opinions about how Taylor Swift’s appearance at NFL games detracts from the game itself. The record NFL single-day sales data does not support that sentiment. Her human brand is not hurting the NFL; it is spiking interest and sales despite her perceived overexposure.

The overexposure of Taylor Swift, her lover Travis Kelce, and their relationship has indeed gone way too far by the media. This topic is polarizing. As the title suggests, it is delicate. She has attended twelve games, during which the camera has seemingly put a spotlight on her as a fan. From showcasing her emotional reaction to key plays (such as Travis’ record-setting completion) to her fast friendship with Brittany Mahomes to meeting his mother—the media is feeding the obsessive overexposure.

Perhaps this overexposure, her immense success, and her interactions with her fan base are jarring to some football enthusiasts. Taylor Swift is a fearless storyteller who is unafraid to share her vulnerability, relationship turbulence, and even political persuasions through her songs. She is a smart, successful, and popular female icon who engages with her fans in an unprecedented way, not generally seen in the NFL. This is the perfect storm to get drunk on jealousy. But it’s okay! Don’t you worry your pretty little mind, as people throw rocks at things that shine.

Despite the polarization and jealousy of a successful woman, there is a positive aspect for marketers in that the Super Bowl is steeped in family traditions. It ranks as the second largest day of food consumption, with 352.5 million gallons in beer sales and 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten. This year, we anticipate families enjoying the game and having a newfound interest among daughters and other Swifties. This element changes the consumption dynamic and can make for a more inclusive family viewing ritual. Families can eagerly tune in for the funny advertisements together. In fact, 72% of all ads last year used a humor appeal. This year, the trend of humor appeals will continue from BMW, Oreos, Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, E*Trade, Mt. Dew, Pringles, and Doritos, among others.

One non-family-friendly ritual and controversial consumer behavior related to economics and business sports is sports gambling. Given that the big game is in fabulous Las Vegas, the spotlight on gambling will be paramount this year. Las Vegas is known for its glamorous entertainment, the Strip, sports books, casinos, table games, and slot machines (even in the airports and gas stations). It is a city of bright lights, which never blind us. These attributes of the city brand of Las Vegas feed into the concept of escape. I did the first six years of my experiential marketing/academic career in Las Vegas and had the pleasure of bringing marketing students to R&R Partners advertising agency. They are known for an award-winning marketing campaign- “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” This campaign alludes to the compelling notion of people’s need to escape from life’s mundane and ordinary routine. Sometimes, we need to let loose and stumble home to our cats.

Across our country, this Super Bowl is set to bring $1.3 billion from legal sports betting, representing a 20% spike from last year’s game. Tourists especially, including those travelling to Vegas to view the Super Bowl, may be keen on trying their hand at the tables or betting on the outcome of the game. Over 450,000 tourists will be heading to Vegas for the Super Bowl. Gambling behavior will be encouraged by advertisers such as MGM, Fan Duel, and Draft Kings in spots before kickoff and during the game. Perhaps to the dismay of parents and to those fans in the thirteen states where gambling is illegal, sports gambling is becoming normalized.

The prevalence of sports gambling for the Super Bowl is stunning. Over 67.8 million American consumers are predicted to make a bet related to the Super Bowl during the week of the game. This goes back to the economic and business aspects of the game. A predicted $23.1 billion will be spent on legal as well as illegal bets related to the Game, truly making the devils roll the dice and angels roll their eyes. This shocking figure is a 44% increase over the $16 billion that consumers bet on the game last year. Note that these statistics include a variety of bets ranging from offshore and illegal bets, betting apps, sportsbooks, bookies, and informal bets among friends and families.

Not surprisingly, the bookies and gambling sites are offering bets related to Taylor Swift. She could make all the tables turn. You can bet on the following: how many times the camera will feature her during the game, if she will make it back in time from her Tokyo concert, and my personal favorite—whether or not Travis Kelce will propose to her. A more detailed bet is whether she would say no to such a proposal at or after the Super Bowl. Given she only wants a paper ring, this is exciting for Swifties and those of us who simply love love. It’s a love story, baby just say yes!

Is this the end of all the endings?

Angeline Close Scheinbaum, Clemson University. Associate Professor of Marketing & Dan Duncan Endowed Professor of Sport Marketing


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