How Her Romance with Travis Kelce became a PR Blessing for the Kansas City Chiefs and Football

By Florence Sumaray


As an avid fan of both Taylor Swift and the NFL (Washington Commanders fan), I’ve been captivated by the Taylor Swift phenomenon ever since she started attending Kansas City Chiefs games.

I had never tuned into the New Heights podcast launched by the Kelce Brothers last year, nor had I watched the Amazon documentary titled “Kelce” until this Taylor Swift saga unfolded. I found myself glued to TikTok as speculation about her relationship with Travis Kelce became reality.

But what truly amazed me was the profound effect Taylor Swift had on not just the NFL, but also the Kelce podcast, social media followers, and the Chiefs Kingdom and Swiftie communities alike. It felt like everyone was sharing my popcorn, eagerly watching it all unfold. The “Swiftie Effect” was a public relations dream, and the NFL embraced it wholeheartedly. On the day of her first-attended game, the NFL ‘X’ (Twitter)  even changed their title to read ‘Taylor was here,’ and who could forget the countless comments women have made on their significant others, claiming that Taylor Swift had put Travis Kelce on the map? I put  videos like this on repeat, watching them and laughing so hard I couldn’t stop watching.  

Thanks to the Swiftie Effect, The New Heights podcast skyrocketed to number one, garnering thousands of new subscribers, and Travis Kelce gained a significant number of followers. A segment called “No Dumb Questions” on the podcast was even created specifically for Swifties who were trying to understand football. They were refreshingly open about their inquiries, from the basics of a down to what constitutes a snap. I feel fortunate that I grew up watching the Redskins (now Commanders) with my parents and paid attention, as my worlds have now seamlessly merged. It’s truly exciting to witness this convergence.

As marketing and PR professionals, this collaboration between the NFL, the New Heights podcast, and Swifties is beyond anything we could have imagined. Are we all eagerly anticipating songs to come out of this? I’ve already started planning their wedding, just like this YouTuber I follow. There’s even been speculation about the bridal party, and Page Six went so far as to create an AI depiction of what their child might look like. Call it what you will, but it’s undeniable: it’s the Taylor Swift effect on the economy. 

Here are some stats that quantify Taylor’s economical effect:

  • NFL viewership surged with regular-season games, averaging 17.9 million viewers, a 7% increase from the previous year, hitting the highest mark since 2015 (18.1 million). Notably, female viewership rose by 9%, bolstering the league’s performance among women.
  • A 63% increase in female viewership between the ages of 18 and 49 during the Chiefs and Bears game September 24.
  • Increase in sales of Travis Kelce’s jersey by 400%, placing him in the top 5 most popular jerseys of the season.
  • The Kelce brothers podcast reached the top position on Apple’s podcasts charts.
  • The increase in Travis Kelce’s Instagram followers during a single day on September 25 was 250,000. Kelce gained more followers than the NFL’s top 100 players combined when Taylor came to the game.

So, what can we learn from this positive-yields PR touchdown? Sometimes, an unlikely combination can be the best when expanding audience bases. Specifically, if there is connective tissue there (preferably, popular connective tissue). Embracing unexpected opportunities and riding the wave of a natural trend pertaining to your brand or product puts you in the celebrated driver’s seat of the conversation. We don’t always get PR blessings but when we do, we need to catch them and run down the field.