Taylor swift album cover wide

Taylor Swift is known for many things, and it seems she can add marketing genius to that list as well! To promote her new album, 1989 (Taylor’s version), her marketing team launched a set of mini games on Google that required fans to take to the search engine to solve a range of puzzles. This clever, creative campaign was a huge success, driving global engagement, whilst improving the sentiment of ‘Taylor Swift’ related searches. This case study is a great example of how brands can activate innovative search campaigns to improve brand awareness and perception.

How Taylor Swift launched an innovative search campaign to promote her new album

Taylor Swift has broken the internet yet again, this time quite literally.

After a lengthy legal fight, Taylor Swift has slowly begun to buy back the rights to her music, and re-recording new versions of her previous albums, called ‘Taylor’s Version’. These new albums not only feature re-recordings of the original songs, but additional tracks, dubbed ‘From The Vault’, which never made it onto the initial album.

The most recent album to get a re-release is ‘1989’, with Taylor’s Version soon to be dropping on 27th October 2023. To promote this album, Taylor Swift partnered with Google to create a mini game that was driven by Google search.

To reveal titles of the new Vault tracks, fans had to work together to solve a total of 33 million puzzles. These puzzles required users to search for ‘Taylor Swift’ on Google, where a blue vault icon would then pop up on their browser. Clicking this would reveal a series of word puzzles, which could only be completed by typing the correct answer back into the Google search bar. Each user could complete 89 puzzles (symbolism for the album title being 1989), to work towards the 33m target. Due to her global fanbase, this target was easy work and the puzzle was completed in less than 24 hours and her new ‘From The Vault’ track titles were revealed.

What impact did this search campaign have?

Unsurprisingly, searches for ‘Taylor Swift’ skyrocketed on September 19th when the vault game began. On Google Trends, searches such as ‘Vault 1989’, ‘Taylor Swift 1989 Vault’ and even ‘Taylor Swift Sheep’ (one of the answers to the puzzle), rose by over 5000%. This just shows the ginormous impact that such a creative idea can have and the willingness of audiences to participate in a fun and unique experience.

However, it is worth noting that Taylor Swift already has a very established loyal fan base who would be excited to participate in such a campaign, and who were also driven by the reward of discovering the titles of her upcoming songs. But, that doesn’t mean that brands with a smaller following can’t have the same success. You may just have to change the incentive. For example, users could complete a series of puzzles for the chance of winning your product. This is a great opportunity to do something different and memorable to help grow awareness of your brand.

It’s a clever example of how you can use search to change brand perception

Bad press can be detrimental to your brand and to your SEO. Negative articles could rank above your website, being the first thing users see when they search your brand name.

This was a problem Taylor Swift faced for many years. Her dating life is notorious, with thousands of articles negatively commenting on her latest romance. However, Swift cleverly took this narrative back by titling one her vault tracks, ‘Slut’. Therefore, everytime someone now searches ‘Taylor Swift slut’, her own music ranks highly in Google, over the harmful articles.

This is a great example of how brands can change brand perception by targeting negative keywords, rather than dismissing them. For example, we previously worked with TikTok to change the narrative around ‘TikTok safety’. Previously when you searched for this keyword a number of articles came up that spoke about how dangerous TikTok can be for young users. However, after creating content that targets ‘safety’ related keywords, TikTok themselves now rank in the top positions for these searches. Therefore, users are now presented with positive articles on how TikTok are improving safety on their platform, rather than negative articles, which can help improve their brand perception.

Brands can easily replicate this SEO tactic. Often brands can be afraid of negative keywords, removing them from their keyword strategy. But whether you like it or not, users are searching these terms so it’s better to get a hold of them then ignore them. You need to take a leaf out of Taylor Swift’s book and take back control by publishing SEO content which takes back the narrative. This not only shows your audience that you’re working to improve their criticisms which can improve your relationship, but helps to change overall brand sentiment.

What can brands learn from this campaign?

There are three core things that marketers can learn from Taylor Swift’s clever search campaign:

  1. You can be creative when it comes to search – Often brands think of search as a pretty straightforward medium, but there is room for creativity! We are moving away from traditional mediums and entering a world that goes far beyond the search box. From voice search, to visual search, and interactive campaigns like Taylor Swift’s example, there are various unique things you can do with search to stand out from the crowd. This can capture users’ attention which can help grow your organic traffic and build brand awareness.
  2. Engaging content boosts performance – Static content will always have a place in SEO in terms of targeting keywords, however if its engagement you want to drive then interactive content is king. Taylor Swift’s clever use of puzzles and mini games, forces her fans to interact with her content, which brands can replicate to boost user engagement. Simply adding quizzes, poles, games, videos or any other type of interactive content to your website or campaign can increase audience participation and make your brand more memorable.
  3. Don’t be afraid to target negative keywords – It can be scary acknowledging negative keywords, but going after these search terms can be beneficial for your brand. Taking back the narrative can help your website to rank highly for negative keywords, which will put positive content in front of the user to help shift their brand perception. The key is to be authentic. Don’t simply ignore your audience’s concerns. Being open and honest helps to build trust, which allows brands to grow a loyal community and customer base. After all, nobody is perfect, although as a Swiftie, I think Taylor is pretty close!

For more information on how you can activate an effective search campaign contact our expert team today.

Broadcast Account Director

Holly Mason: Broadcast Account Director

Holly works in our Broadcast Team. She is the company's designated 'Swiftie', and can often been found talking all about the latest music or TV shows.