Taylor Swift Delivery
Rebrands aren’t just for retail stores, insurance companies and pizza chains. People, and in particular public figures, are also known for reinventing themselves. The most recent pop culture example of this comes in the form of Taylor Swift. Taylor deleted all old content from her social media, dropped a new single with a totally different sound than her previous work, and released a highly publicized music video. In the dramatic video Taylor even says “old Taylor can’t come to the phone. Why? Oh, because she’s dead.”. If the old Taylor is dead (RIP), who is this new Taylor?! Apparently she’s fierce, edgy and experimental, which begs the question: why is she partnering with UPS?
Recently on my walk from the parking ramp to the Capsule office, I saw a UPS truck drive by with a huge Taylor Swift poster stuck to the side. I thought to myself “That’s….odd. Is this really what the new Taylor wants?” Apparently it is.
The truck posters have a call to action: “Stop. Snap. Share. #TaylorSwiftDelivery”. I just jumped on to Instagram to see how many results this hashtag garnered – 3,034, and only about 70% of images using that hashtag are actually of the UPS trucks. For an app that has 500 million daily users (Taylor Swift alone has 103 million followers), those stats are pretty stark. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. The call to action to use a hashtag for something as dull as taking a picture of a UPS truck doesn’t beget traction. I see this all too often with brands – a passive call to action using a hashtag with little to no strategy behind it. I could write an entirely separate blog post on this point alone, but I digress. At taylorswift.ups.com you can pre-order Taylor’s new album and be entered to win a sweepstakes for various Taylor Swift prizes, the grand prize being a “Taylor Swift concert flyaway package”.
Here’s how this does damage to both brands:
First off, this is sloppy marketing strategy on the part of UPS and makes them look outdated. In a time where physical music CDs are very much on the way out, UPS doesn’t need to spend time emphasizing that they can ship outdated technology. Second, asking the public to take pictures of a UPS truck and share it with a hashtag isn’t post-worthy content, and is a waste of a scroll on peoples’ feed. This effort makes UPS look out of touch while trying to reach the “youth” with a “let’s just put a hashtag on there!” mentality.
Now let’s move on to Taylor. Why is she partnering with UPS? I will concede that her album art is on moving billboards, which provides visibility for her new music and thus brings some value to her. And yes, being able to pre-order albums is fun, and it’s even more fun when you get automatically entered into a sweepstakes by doing so. But partnering with a shipping company seems like one of the least edgy image decisions ever. Shipping companies are literally known for their reliably and consistency. Isn’t that what she’s trying to get away from? Taylor is clearly trying to leave her old reputation behind and rebrand herself to a “rebel of pop”. Where does UPS fit into this narrative?
Sorry for the bad blood, Taylor, but my take on this partnership: it’s time to shake it off.