Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” Teaser Campaign


By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist

If there is a fine art to creating a teaser campaign, then Taylor Swift’s marketing team has proven themselves as the Michelangelos of the tease. Starting a full ten days before the premier of her forthcoming “Bad Blood” music video, which airs during the Billboard Music Awards tonight, Swift posted an image of herself as a character dubbed “Catastrophe,” thus launching one of the greatest teaser campaigns of our time.

Since launching on May 7th, Swift’s team has built the suspense by posting teasers across her various social media — Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook — which feature different characters to appear in the video. Along the way revealing that each actor selected the name of their “alter-ego,” which is included on the posters lensed by photographer Jason McDonald. At first the campaign released those known to be from Swift’s circle of friends, including fashion model Karlie Kloss as “Knockout.” Eventually that group expanded and today includes movie stars, new and iconic supermodels, Golden Globe winners, Emmy winners, Grammy winners, and an Oscar nominee.

Her Instagram posts have gone on to clock 1 million likes in less than twelve hours, and the teaser trailer has garnished half a million views in less than a week. All for a video of a song that was released in October of 2014 off her 1989 album. That album has racked up 14 nominations in 13 categories for the Billboard Music Awards, putting her at the top of the list of nominated artists.

While the imagery bares a striking resemblance to Frank Miller’s Sin City, the strength in the piece is really in the casting. Swift has a strong network of nearly 60 million Twitter followers and 71 million Facebook followers. But rather than rely on her network and that of her friends, which likely has strong crossover, Swift cast a wider net by enlisting unexpected stars, such as Ellen Pompeo and Mariska Hargitay, who will play the characters “Luna” and “Justice,” respectively. Swift’s team wisely explained while releasing the teaser images of those cast members that Swift was a fan of their respective TV shows and has named her cats after their characters on those shows. Thus bridging the gap, building a layer to the story, all the while expanding the reach and tapping into a network outside her own. The last character to be unveiled was none other than fashion icon Cindy Crawford.

The campaign was well conceived from the get go. It synched up to an awards show that she leads in nominations, it repurposes previous content to help give her album a second lift, it forged relationships and expanded her network, it garnished excitement for her forthcoming tour, and it becomes a water cooler and social media conversation. All in all it showed that a 25 year-old signer has the marketing acumen of those twice her age and certainly knows how to ‘Break Bad.’

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