Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Taylor[ed] Marketing

Published 05 Oct, 2020 03:10pm
What can Taylor Swift teach you?
Photo: JSTOR Daily
Photo: JSTOR Daily

I have a confession to make; one that I am rather proud of. I am a Swiftie.

For the uninitiated, this means I am a fan of Taylor Swift. Is it shocking that a 43-year-old man is a fan of her music? Maybe to some, but Tay Tay, as she is known, has impressed millions with her powerful lyrics, creative videos and approachability. She has also impressed me with her world class marketing skills. So today, I am listing a few marketing tips you can learn from her.

Be a Visualiser

Careem’s campaign last year was aimed at attracting new captains and had the amazing slogan: 'Akele na jaana kamai chor kar'. The slogan has a call to action and creates a powerful image in one’s mind. Brilliant. Another example is Ariel’s 'Share the Load' campaign; again a powerful call to action and a visual. Swift is a master storyteller and her lyrics create powerful imagery and one can’t help but remember the lyrics as they usually make a deep impression. For example, in Story of Us she sings “I’ve never heard silence this loud.” Take a leaf out of her book and create visual images in your TV and print ads and harness the audio-visual power of radio for impact.

Engage your Fans

Last year when Swift was about to release a new album, the music industry and her fans were very excited about it. How to keep millions of customers engaged and interested? Swift did not reveal the album name but left hints in her videos and appearances and teased and challenged her fans to figure out the title for themselves. Once the album was launched, she hosted a special reveal show where she spoke to her fans and sang a song from the album for the first time. And yes, the event was live streamed. For her hit song The Man, she placed clues in the video to keep her fans guessing.

Use Figure and Ground

Swift created a masterpiece video for her single Style, using the classic principle of figure, ground and play. Don’t rush to produce a music video; instead remember the importance of figure and ground as it relates not only to visual but also to other information and stimulus. A brand that uses figure and ground very well is The Economist. They do this by deploying phrases and sayings we are already familiar but changing them slightly. For example 'Great minds like a think'. This immediately clicked because the original phrase 'Great minds think alike' is known to most of us – similar to the Careem campaign I mentioned earlier. I am told that the Telefun jingle registered in people’s heads because the tune was the same as Ko Ko Korina. Let me know if you think that is true.

Think Different But Be Relevant

To stand out from the clutter a brand must at the same time remain true to its essence; both don’t have to be opposites. Swift does this effortlessly as her music appeals not only to teenage girls but to a variety of people. How can she speak the language of a diverse audience? She uses her storytelling abilities and creative prowess but also chooses themes that are not the run of the mill. Her song The New Romantics talked powerfully about her generation, their hopes, fears and the lies they told themselves. Young people can relate to the song’s theme and older people, like myself, can admire the strength and wit on display in the lyrics as well as the catchy musical beats. A beautiful example of her thinking differently and being relevant is New Year’s Day. When we think of love, we often think of the romance of New Year’s Eve. But not Swift. She penned a song talking about the true essence of love, staying together when the party is over. As the lyrics say “I’ll be picking up bottles with you on New Year’s Day”.

Swift has become a world famous star, and good marketing and PR have played a role no doubt. However, at the core of her appeal are her essence and substance, her undeniable ability and skills and her prowess as a master storyteller. Follow these marketing tips from this superstar and I guarantee your next campaign will not leave you heartbroken.

Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan.