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Canadian brands hope to score with Taylor Swift fans during Super Bowl

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TORONTO -

Most Canadian companies locked in their Super Bowl ad space long before anyone knew the Kansas City Chiefs would make it to the final match, but experts say many of those brands will be looking to score big with the audience drawn in by the team's most famous fan: Taylor Swift.

The American pop star has been in the spotlight at Kansas City's NFL games since she first cheered on her tight end boyfriend Travis Kelce against the Chicago Bears in September. Many of her fans have since become rabid football watchers, attributing Swift with getting them into the game.

Those fans represent a lucrative opportunity for brands to branch out beyond their typical targets — men between the ages of 18 and 35 — and reach tween, teen, gen Z and millennial women, who tend to drive most decisions around which goods households buy, marketing experts say.

"People are arguing it's doubling the impact of your marketing value and spend, so that's obviously valuable," said Cheri Bradish, a sports marketing professor at Toronto Metropolitan University.

"They have more discretionary income and they're more inclined to buy, particularly if the message resonates with them."

Swift fans are especially known for driving sales.

Online research company QuestionPro found last summer that her fans have spent an average US$1,300 per show on her Eras concert tour, which has consistently sold out. (Swift swings through Toronto in November and Vancouver in December.)

Days before she visits a given city, craft supplies chain Michaels said local stores see a 300 per cent surge in jewelry and bead sales, which it attributes to the trend of fans trading friendship bracelets at her concerts.

If the pace of spending spurred by the Eras Tour continues, QuestionPro estimates the star will have generated an estimated US$5 billion in economic impact.

"She really does bring a huge effect and a huge impact," said Gah-Yee Wong, head of marketing at Intuit TurboTax Canada.

The company will advertise during the Canadian Super Bowl telecast for the third year in a row with a spot directed by Taika Waititi of "Jojo Rabbit" and featuring "Abbott Elementary" star Quinta Brunson.

Planning began before Swift became entwined with football, but asked about the star, Won said, "It's a perk, I'm not going to lie."

"We're excited to see more men, women and younger people be excited about this incredible event and we are trying to speak to that younger audience too," she added.

Also hoping to speak to Super Bowl audiences are food brands PepsiCo, Hershey, Maple Leaf Foods, King's Hawaiian, Osmow’s, Coca-Cola, Molson and M&M’s, all of which Bell Media said will air advertisements on TSN, CTV and RDS during the Sunday faceoff between Kansas City and the San Francisco 49ers.

Automotive companies Kia, Canadian Kawasaki Motors and Toyota, banks TD and BMO, along with L'Oreal, the Ontario government and Temu are slated to market during the game, too.

Altogether, they helped Bell Media achieve record ad sales for the Super Bowl by the end of January, when the company had only "limited new inventory" left.

Boston Pizza, which usually runs ads ahead of the game, will air a spot starring former football player Luke Willson during the match portion of the Canadian broadcast for the first time in a while.

"Some people will tune in just to watch the new and exciting commercials and then the half time show, which has always been a draw, but now I think there's actually an in-game reason to watch," said James Kawalecki, Boston Pizza's vice-president of marketing, naming cutaways to Swift as that reason.

Swift's presence at the game is still up in the air because she performs in Tokyo the night before the Sunday kickoff in Las Vegas, meaning she'll need to rush to get to the Super Bowl in time.

Regardless of whether she makes it, Sijie Sun, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Manitoba, said Swift has offered an important lesson that should be added to advertisers' playbooks.

"You want to be more inclusive, more open to all genders, all demographics," he said.

"The social sense has been changed ... so you have to be trying new stuff."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2024.

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