Wait. Is this TV promo an ad for a show or for a Taylor Swift song?
26th August 2023

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It’s a rare day when the promotional material for a new TV series leads with reference to a six-year-old song, but then it’s a rare day when you get to piggyback off (arguably) the world’s most successful pop artist in promoting said show.

That’s precisely what has happened with Amazon Prime Video’s new series Wilderness, a romance-gone-wrong revenge thriller from the UK, starring Jenna Coleman.

On Thursday morning, the streamer sent out news that a teaser trailer for a show that began bubbling away in the internet’s collective consciousness a month or so back had finally been released.

But it led not with news of the show, but of the song being used in said trailer.

“Prime Video reveals Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor’s Version) debuting in upcoming UK original thriller Wilderness”, ran the headline.

On its UK X/Twitter account, the streamer said: “Another day another drama, but all she thinks about is karma…. Your first look at #Wilderness, featuring Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor’s Version).”

Take a second to ponder that: A company that last year spent $US 7 billion on original programming for its streaming platform decided the most important thing to say about its new show was that its teaser trailer – not even the actual trailer – featured a new recording of a song first released in 2017. What the?

Taylor Swift is such a big draw for the show’s audience that a new version of a six-year-old song is the headline news.

Some context here: Look What You Made Me Do was a chart topper when it was first released, and a key song on the album Reputation, on which Swift spoke back to the wave of internet and media disapproval that had emerged in the wake of her rise to global stardom. Many of the songs featured themes of revenge, and asserted her right to not conform to a good-girl image (even if it was one she had in part herself cultivated).

That album is one of the six she recorded for the Bad Machine label, three of which have been re-released in a re-recorded Taylor’s Version in a bid to regain control of her songs and to diminish the value of her recorded back catalogue following a bitter dispute with former label boss Scooter Braun.

The new song is the second re-recording from the Reputation album to be released, suggesting that the album itself is not far away. The first was Delicate, which was released amid precisely zero fanfare, on the trailer for another Amazon show, the second season of The Summer I Turned Pretty, earlier this month.

Wilderness stars, from left: Jenna Coleman as Liv Taylor, Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Will Taylor, Eric Balfour as Garth and Ashley Benson as Cara.Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Perhaps sensing that it had missed an opportunity then, Amazon has elevated this new release to headline status.

But it is also the case that the song itself, with its themes of revenge, aligns perfectly with the show, and is thus a canny way of bringing the series to the attention of what will surely be its key demographic – the young women who comprise the bulk of Swift’s fanbase.

The streamer claims the song “reflects Liv’s (Jenna Coleman) transformation after her supposed ‘happily-ever-after’ quickly turns into a living nightmare on discovering her husband Will (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is having an affair”.

After she learns about his betrayal, the release continues, “her heartbreak is swiftly followed by another emotion: fury”.

It’s a dynamic perfectly familiar to fans of Swift’s work, and is likely to spark interest in the show, all the while priming Swifties for the imminent release of the next album in the Taylor’s Version box set.

As marketing ploys go, it’s a stroke of genius, for both parties.

Contact the author at [email protected], follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin, and read more of his work here.

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