Taylor Swift Backlash Could Be a Case of No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Image: chacha.com

That was fast. Well, it is New York. Soon after pop star Taylor Swift announced Monday that she was New York’s new "Global Welcome Ambassador" the backlash kicked in, as self-proclaimed "New Yorkers" expressed their, er, unhappiness with the Big Apple’s new pitchwoman.

While the Tennessee-raised Swift now lives in downtown Manhattan and is a regular presence on New York City’s party circuit, she was taken to task for apparently not possessing enough grit.

"Does she know how much to add to a MetroCard to end up without a few cents trapped on it?" NY1 anchorman Pat Kiernan asked the Daily News. "Does she know which hot dog vendor sells the ‘Recession Special?’ Does she know that 44th Ave., 44th Rd. and 44th Dr. are all parallel streets in Queens? Does she know who Dr. Zizmor is?"

NYC and Co. introduced its new ambassador with videos featuring Swift helping to explain New York to tourists, such as by offering the correct pronunciation of "Houston Street" and defining what a "bodega" is.

The new campaign conveniently coincides with the release of Swift’s new single, "Welcome to New York," which celebrates the nation’s biggest and most diverse city. That still didn’t stop people from posting negative comments on NYC and Co.’s Facebook page about bringing Swift onboard to help sell New York City.

This may be another case of careful-what-you-wish-for when recruiting celebrity spokespeople or—and this gets our vote—there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Indeed, the city’s tourism bureau should send thank-you notes to some of the New Yorkers who are now disparaging Swift as a spokesperson for New York City. The backlash is only going to get the decision more media impressions, more exposure and more opportunity to get the message out (and, the tourism bureau hopes, bring more out-of-town wallets to New York City). The backlash even plays into why people are enamored by the Big Apple in the first place. People love to complain about complainers.

Call us crazy, but this may be all by design—and a lesson for communicators who are  willing to suffer some criticism (all in good fun) if it means spreading the message.

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1

  • Chilly Zyx

    She was actually named for a very specific position – Ambassador to Tourists. Her job is to attract, point out the amazing things, and convey why people should visit. Not inform that there are homeless people on the streets, stalkers and catcalling.
    Classic example of picking at things that aren’t there.

  • QuietDanTN

    Taylor Swift was not named “Ambassador to long-time, cynical hardbitten, self-centered, obnoxious New York Residents.”

  • guest

    Im a new yorker and i dont understand why people are complaining. Yes its a shitty song but she doesnt really say anything but welcome to ny. I dont think the song misrepresented ny because it doesnt even really represent ny other then the fact that she says theres bright lights…which is true. People really need to stop complaining about everything she does. Shes a celeb who gets to show people what sites to see when visiting ny thats all. And who the hell cares if she knows how to save that 1 cent on the subway ive been riding the subway my entire life and i dont. I dont know what hot dog stand sells the recession special, that doesnt mean im not a true new yorker it simply means i dont care enough for dirty water dogs to hunt down the specials.