Real relationship aside, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are 100% in a PR relationship: It's Been a Minute
Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce's alleged romance with Taylor Swift is a successful PR relationship benefiting both parties.
Three weeks ago, if you had asked me to identify Travis Kelce, a player for the Kansas City Chiefs, I wouldn't have been able to do so. However, now it seems like I can't escape him. His presence is everywhere, from video clips of his podcast on TikTok to his ads for Experian on YouTube. I even know about his fashion preferences thanks to my Instagram feed. As someone who has never watched a full American football game, it's overwhelming to suddenly see Kelce's handlebar mustache everywhere.
The reason for Kelce's sudden omnipresence is his alleged romance with singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. Swift has been attending Chiefs games, accompanied by famous friends like Sophie Turner, Ryan Reynolds, and Hugh Jackman. Kelce's mom has even been seen wearing a friendship bracelet inspired by Swift and chatting happily with the pop star.
But are they really dating? It's hard to say. Swift and Kelce haven't confirmed or denied their relationship, but according to crisis public relations expert Molly McPherson, they are definitely in a PR relationship. This means that their public association benefits both of them, whether through increased album streams, a larger social media following, or a buzzworthy award season campaign. And according to McPherson, Swift and Kelce's PR relationship is a success. The fact that they are one of the top trending news stories, with the NFL embracing their relationship, is a testament to that.
It's clear that this PR relationship has been beneficial for Kelce. Since Swift started attending his games, her fans have been tuning in to Chiefs' NFL broadcasts in the hopes of catching a glimpse of her in the box seats at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs ratings have soared, and Kelce's jersey sales have increased by 400%. But what does Swift get out of this? She is already one of the biggest stars in the world.
One benefit for Swift is the timing. Her Eras Tour documentary is coming out this week, and being seen at Kelce's game against the Denver Broncos before its release expands her cultural influence beyond her dedicated fanbase. It creates the perfect storm of media attention leading up to a major release.
Swift understands the public's fascination with her love life and has skillfully used it to her advantage throughout her career. She knows that her fans will always talk about her relationships, even when she doesn't have new music or videos to promote. So it's easy for her to lean into that and use it as part of her image. Along with her songwriting talent, ambition, and devoted fanbase, this has kept her relevant for nearly two decades.
Swift is not the first or the only star to utilize PR relationships. We see this pattern in the entertainment industry with power couples like Beyoncé and Jay-Z or writer/directors Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Even in politics, the Obamas have mastered the art of a relatable power couple, despite their wealth and influence. They have shared every aspect of their marriage with the public, turning their first date into a narrative feature film. Their openness and vulnerability have become their special sauce.
Even when PR relationships don't work out in the traditional sense, they can still generate buzz and influence for all parties involved. Just look at the current discussion surrounding Jada Pinkett Smith, who revealed that she and her husband Will Smith have been privately separated for years. While this revelation may not have a celebratory tone, it is likely to generate interest in Pinkett Smith's upcoming memoir. The best PR relationships don't necessarily need to succeed romantically; they just need to work for each star's brand.
While it's tempting to judge these celebrities for their performative relationships, it's important to remember that many of us have done the same in our own lives. We've strategically posted on social media or shared certain aspects of our relationships to shape our image. Looking for love is difficult for everyone, but for celebrities, the added benefit of a brand partnership check can make it a little easier.