All Your Favorite Brands Are Tortured Poets – The Marketing Genius of Taylor Swift

Don’t try and come for her job.

It’s impossible to categorize Taylor Swift as anything other than a roaring success. With the release of her newest album, she has yet again created what some might call a tidal wave. We prefer tsunami.

When The Tortured Poets Department hit listeners’ earbuds on April 19, 2024, her fans had already been waiting with bated breath. Starting off strong with the synth-heavy, mellow opening number and ending the first half of her double-album on the fourth-wall-breaking Clara Bow, Swift made it clear that this was an album uninterested in charting in the Top 100. Reminiscent more of an autopsy than an album, it was, as its title suggests, an anthology of sorts, detailing a storyteller’s narrative journey through artistry, anguish, and acceptance.

All Your Favorite Brands Are Tortured Poets – The Marketing Genius of Taylor SwiftThis perambulation marked a new era in Swift’s life. One of an artist who has recognized and come to embrace her stardom and rightful place in music history. It’s refreshing to see the 34-year-old embrace her standing— not because she’s denied it in the past— but because of how rare it is to see a woman confidently stake her claim as an expert in her craft. And with a doctorate in fine arts and almost double the American Music Awards as Michael Jackson, we’d like to think she’s earned the moniker “Queen of Pop.

Surpassing the Beatles’ all-time record for most cumulative weeks in the top 10 in Billboard 200 history, Swift has no need to break more records. And yet still, even with a lyrically dense and balladic album reminiscent of Billy Joel, she continues to dominate the charts with The Tortured Poets Department.

The Marketing Genius of Taylor Swift- Easter Eggs

This feat is in no small part due to her brilliance at marketing “Taylor Swift” the brand while simultaneously staying true to her own personhood. Starting with seemingly random capitalized letters scattered sporadically in lyrics that would spell out secret messages, Swift has always encouraged her fans to be sleuths of sorts. This caught on like wildfire, with the artist continuously one-upping her last game of puzzles to the excitement of her fanbase. Now, even dress colors, website crashes, Spotify Canvases, and background imagery can mean something to an eagle-eyed Swiftie.

Any good songwriter can create an album. But Taylor has figured out how to make each release an experience. This type of marketing strategy has taken her brand off the musical plane and into the physical world.

Before the album’s release, a mysterious pop-up appeared out of thin air in Los Angeles. Built to look like a library, the Dark-Academia style installation was spooky and detailed, with marble busts, old books, and bird cages. The book spines read song titles, and lyrics were spelled out on pages, but what really caught people’s eye were the more subtle hidden messages. Such as, as the world discovered only today, the word “Us” etched into one of the book covers (which can also be spotted in Swift’s hands during her “Fortnight” music video) is the title of her featured song on Gracie Abram’s upcoming album. A bust in the library was a recreation of a famous statue of the goddess Diana, who, as pointed out on X, “crumbled while waiting to be shipped to London in the 6th century due to years of neglect, succumbing to the passage of time and the elements”. Taylor’s album later featured the lyrics, “Even statues crumble if they’re made to wait.”

This type of intricate engagement with her community of listeners makes her work more tangible. Sparking a spirit of mystery and adventure, people continue to scan her discography for clues, even years after release. Which, in turn, drives her numbers sky-high and keeps the public guessing: What will Taylor do next?

Marketing So Good, Other Companies have Jumped on The Bandwagon

Merriam-Webster, Pixar, and the Empire State Building don’t exactly need a PR boost. These conglomerates are already household names and globally recognized, yet they still jumped on an opportunity to play off of The Tortured Poets Department’s release with cheeky Instagram posts, TikTok videos, and promotional content.

With over a million views on TikTok, Tums got in on the action by posting a recreation of the album cover that instead spotlighted someone clutching their stomach, with the text “The Tortured Tummies Department” on the photo and the caption “All’s fair in love and heartburn”.

Pixar joined the conversation with lyrics and song titles overlayed on top of images of characters from their films, some of which were laugh-out loud funny, and other’s that’ll break your heart.

Our favorite by far, however, is Merriam-Webster, who posted word definitions on their X account and blogs breaking down the vocabulary in Swift’s albums.

It’s a tactic called newsjacking, and everyone from the greats to the small businesses uses it. The strategy is fun because it allows companies to get creative and think outside of the box, and it keeps them relevant by directly calling back to a topic that’s circulating.

digital marketing tips

Marketing Tips Taken From The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department

Why not learn from the best? Taylor has shown us a lot of great marketing moves over the years, but we think these are the best.

1. Get Creative: A good content writer knows their audience. If your brand is fun-loving and inquisitive, look for ways of engaging them that break the mold of conventional marketing.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks: Well-behaved marketers rarely make history. We saw it with Don Draper (another muse of Swift’s) in Madmen, and we see it as well in Taylor and her team’s outlandishly fun advertising ideas. I mean, who uses [glitches to advertise new songs] anyway?
3. Stick To An Aesthetic: Taylor goes heavy on the aesthetics of each album, transforming her wardrobe, social media feeds, and public profiles to reflect the chosen colors and vibes of each release. Not a hair is out of place. And, if one is, it probably means something.
4. Turn Disasters Into Opportunities: Taylor has had her fair share of stumbles over the years. Falling out of grace with the public for seemingly no reason, being disrespected on stage, and getting a litany of hate just for having boyfriends. But throughout it all, she’s remained a picture of grace, taking it all in stride, and using every dig made at her as momentum to propel her career higher. Whether that’s taking online bullying and turning it into a symbol for her album Reputation, or writing an entire satire song about how she’s “boy crazy”, Swift has always been able to turn any PR into good PR.

She’s Always Going To Be Making Moves. Your Company Should Be Next

Ultimately, whether you love her music or hate it, Swift has transformed the industry from the day she stepped on the scene. Her speed of writing is almost feverish, penning 31 songs on TTPD, only months after her last release. She was polarizing and inventive from the start. It begs the question: What genius isn’t?

Her music may not be to everyone’s taste, but don’t try and come for her job. There’s no denying that when it comes to marketing, she’s at the top of the game. So take a glitter gel pen from her book, and get to work.

Marketing your company should be at the top of your priority list, and with a few tips from K6 Digital Marketing, we can ensure you’re utilizing all the tools at your disposal, just like the Chairman of the Tortured Poets Department herself.

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