Taylor Swift is dead. Long live Taylor Swift.
So much for shaking it off. After Taylor Swift's initial foray into "official" pop, 2014's earworm-infested "1989," it seems the haters have triumphed, leading everyone's favorite girl "on the bleachers" to embrace her inner mean girl.
At least, that would be the pop psychology take. Many of us in marketing, however, recognize Ms. Swift to be a cunning, calculating positioning savant, and the new, edgy, and angry Taylor is nothing but a brand refresh.
But before I get to the three takeaways for your brand, here's a little catch-up for those of you who don't live and die by her Fourth of July parties.
Act I: Erosion
The two years that followed the drop of "1989" were a roller coaster for the Swift brand. High points included earning Billboard's recognition for the best-selling album of 2014, a song-for-song homage recorded by indie darling Ryan Adams, a victory over Apple regarding streaming rights, and an Album of the Year Grammy.
But then... the fall. Kimye recordings. Spats with Katy over Twitter. Hiddleston "I ? TS" T-shirts. Criticism for failing to back a presidential candidate. A music video that included more supermodels than a Prêt-à-Porter runway.
It all seemed incredibly off-brand for someone who positioned herself as the lovestruck girl next door, cuddler of cats and BFF of her parents. I mean, this was the same girl who delivered Christmas presents in person to geeky uberfans, right?