WASHINGTON: The Embassy of Japan in the United States’ response to Taylor Swift’s impending Super Bowl travel plans this weekend was “a perfect example of earned-first creativity,” Ogilvy EVP of corporate brand and reputation Gayle Fishel said.
Swift is set to perform the last concert of the Tokyo leg of her Era’s Tour Saturday, just a day before the big game. Approximately 5,500 miles away in Las Vegas, her boyfriend and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is set to play in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium.
Ogilvy DC, the embassy’s agency of record of more than three years, helped to answer what it referred to as the Super Bowl’s most “pressing question”: Will Swift make it to the game on time?
The distance and time constraints of both events have been calculated by hundreds of Swifites, reporters, media outlets and airlines, but none with the authority to speak on the matter more so than the embassy of the country Swift would be performing in.
Fishel noted that Jenna Bush Hager on the Today show was mapping out flight paths and Lara Spencer on ABC was also talking about it.
“Everyone was doing the world timezone math,” Fishel said of realizing the invisible string tying the embassy to the current pop culture event.
Fishel said she thought it would be fun for the Embassy of Japan to weigh in on if Swift would actually make it to the big game on time.
The Kansas City Chiefs solidified their spot in Super Bowl LVIII at the AFC Championship on January 28. At 9:30 a.m. EST the following Wednesday, Ogilvy’s team talked to the embassy about addressing the matter. Ten minutes later, the idea was greenlit.
Fishel and members of her DC team, including senior account executives Isabelle Shafer, Arianne Smith and account director Andrew Weld got together to figure out the logistics of how the embassy would weigh in on Swift’s travel plans with a witty social post or potential statement. Fishel wouldn’t speak for her team by titling them “Swifites,” but confirmed they’re all familiar with Swift’s work and fans of her songs.
Weld got to work on the prose of the formal statement and decided to integrate names of Swift’s songs in bold. After presenting the finished product to the embassy, the government account posted the final work on its X account February 2.
“We were like, ‘Move over Punxsutawney Phil,’” Fishel joked of the post’s debut on Groundhog Day.
The statement assured millions of people that Swift will have plenty of time to execute her travel plans.
It's always fun to work at the intersections of popular culture fandom & international diplomacy. @JapanEmbDC & Ogilvy DC came together to answer the most pressing #SuperBowl question & put millions of minds at ease. https://t.co/N3Uu07SAgx— Ogilvy (@Ogilvy) February 8, 2024
The post has since been viewed more than 8.1 million times, reposted by over 6,000 people and liked by over 43,000.
Yuki Sugiyama, a public affairs diplomat at the Embassy of Japan in the U.S. shared the embassy’s post to LinkedIn, joking, “I would like to inform my very serious LinkedIn connections that I am diligently working on Public Diplomacy.”
Having worked with the ambassador and minister over the past couple of years, Fishel said the trust established through the agency’s relationship, reputation and previous culturally-focused work is what made the idea and execution seamless.
Once the statement was live on social media, the team got to work following up with media outlets that were previously mapping out Swift’s travel plans to highlight the authoritative response, Fishel said. USA Today’s designated Swift reporter Bryan West was one of the first to pick up the post, she noted, followed by TikTok Swifties.
“It was fun. It was unexpected too, the Embassy of Japan weighing in. They gave us prominence,” she said. “It was a relevant moment in time and it was a fun idea to talk about the great work that they do, but also get in on a moment in Super Bowl history.”
Fishel said Ogilvy always balances the pros and cons of an activation with clients and aimed to be as delicate and balanced as possible in its statement by not supporting Kelce and the Chiefs over the 49ers.
Since being posted, the statement has garnered 50 different articles of note across a wide range of outlets, responses from DC think tank members and other government officials and profiles that have personally shared the post to their channels.
The Chiefs and 49ers will kickoff Super Bowl LVIII Sunday night — hopefully with Swift in attendance. Fishel said she’s not rooting for any team in particular, but for successful flights from Tokyo to Vegas for all parties involved.
Ogilvy DC and the Embassy of Japan are “watching this space” and the timeline, to make sure everything goes all too well.
Ogilvy DC has supported the government entity’s work primarily through public affairs and cultural efforts around its cherry blossom work in the Washington, DC, area.