- State Farm capitalized on the mania surrounding a rumored relationship between Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce at the Eagles-Washington Commanders game Sunday, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- The insurance marketer placed its mascot, Jake from State Farm, next to Kelce’s mother Donna, piquing the internet’s curiosity as Donna was previously seen cheering on her son aside Swift. During the Eagles game, Jake and Donna gave several nods to Swift’s fans.
- Social media posts further stoked discussion around the pairing, generating strong engagement online. The stunt speaks to how marketers can generate earned media by quickly jumping on trending cultural moments.
Brands are eager to get in on the buzz around the rumored relationship between Swift and Kelce, which arrives in the thick of hype around the “Midnights” artist’s record-breaking Eras Tour. State Farm’s strategic deployment of its mascot, played by actor Kevin Miles, demonstrates that marketers still value the viral potential of social media platforms even as those sites encounter serious challenges related to privacy and brand safety.
An X post about the arranged stunt from Fox Sports’ official NFL account had accrued 1.6 million views at press time, while Eagles center Jason Kelce, Travis’ brother, also gave a shout-out on Instagram. State Farm is dubbing the pairing “the bundle we didn’t know we needed,” which aligns with its promotion of home and auto insurance bundles.
The idea of bringing together Jake and Donna Kelce, affectionately referred to as Mama Kelce, was pitched by Maximum Effort, the ad agency owned by Ryan Reynolds. The shop has developed a reputation for jumping quickly on trending pop culture discussions, sometimes turning around ads within days (an approach that has occasionally backfired). Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively are also personal friends of Swift.
“At State Farm, we recognize the importance of being in tune with the pulse of pop culture. When a ‘lightning in a bottle’ moment appeared, we acted swiftly,” said Alyson Griffin, State Farm’s head of marketing, in a statement. “Our collaboration with Maximum Effort allowed us to strategically bring this creative concept to life, seamlessly joining the ongoing conversation in a timely, relevant and authentic way.”
Jake and Donna together dropped several Easter eggs for viewers to pick up on throughout the broadcast, including swapping friendship bracelets, a common ritual for attendees of the pop superstar’s Eras Tour. The brand mascot, outfitted in his typical red attire, also dipped chicken nuggets into a condiment that was “seemingly ranch,” a reference to a viral X post about Swift eating the same meal while attending a previous Chiefs game.
Condiment brand Heinz has also tried to seize on the oddly phrased observation, which came from a fan account but quickly blew up on X. The marketer and agency Rethink devised a limited-run Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch product within 24 hours of the original post.
The NFL has appeared to receive a boost as speculation around Swift and Kelce reaches a fever pitch. NBC’s broadcast of the Chiefs-Jets game Sunday drew 27 million viewers, up 22% versus the prior year, including 2 million more women, according to Ad Age. The ratings bump is a strong sign that Swift’s fans, known as Swifties, have started tuning into NFL coverage in their snooping efforts around their favorite celebrity.