This article was first reported on, and published by, Digiday sibling Glossy
On Sunday, February 12, 2023, three megastars, the NFL Super Bowl, Rihanna and her brand Fenty, will come together to form one of the greatest supernovas ever witnessed.
Following a roughly six-year hiatus from music, Rihanna is returning in the splashiest way possible. The residual effects for her Fenty brand will be paramount. According to a 2016 study by the NPD Group, Rihanna’s fan base, sometimes referred to as “the Navy,” is 3.7 times more likely to buy products from her than the average big-name celebrity, which is the highest rating any celebrity has had. A television audience of 100 million may not only boost Fenty’s sales from existing fans but also encourage more people to enlist in the Navy.
“Super Bowl ads have always been the thing of water cooler talk and a reason for some to watch the game. But having Robyn Rihanna Fenty perform might turn this into the greatest performance advertising-product-persona ever seen,” said Sean Field, creative director at Special Operations Studios, a commercial arts and entertainment company.
Rihanna’s Instagram announcement, specifically, a simple picture of her hand holding a football, generated $2 million in MIV, a proprietary Launchmetrics metric for media impact value. MIV tracks the impact of influencers, print media, celebrities, official third-party partners and a brand’s media channels. Comparatively, the NFL’s announcement generated $202,000 in MIV. Overall, the online chatter between September 25-27 garnered $28.8 million in MIV, with the majority coming from social media buzz followed by online media.
And social media was indeed in a tizzy, with many people cracking jokes related to the irrelevance of a football game when Rihanna is performing, to more tongue-in-cheek quips that the performance would be one giant Fenty ad, given that the artist has not produced new music since her album “Anti” in 2016. During this hiatus, Rihanna has focused on her businesses, including the Savage x Fenty lingerie brand, which has contributed to her $1.7 billion net worth, as estimated in 2021 by Forbes. She also recently had a baby with her partner, A$AP Rocky.
“The [NFL’s] choice of partnering with Rihanna is exciting due to the massive anticipation of the artist’s return to the [music] scene, which has been on everyone’s minds since her last public performance,” said Alison Bringé, CMO at Launchmetrics. “Rihanna’s Fenty ventures and her recent childbirth have sustained the singer’s interest in the public eye, making her a brilliant choice for a buzzy Super Bowl performance.”
With its nearly 12 million Instagram followers, Fenty Beauty has not taken advantage of the Super Bowl announcement yet. Fenty Beauty did not respond to a request for comment. However, it’s worth noting that the NFL takes its trademarks around the Super Bowl very seriously, which could impact Fenty’s indirect advertising and marketing strategy. Fenty could very well elect to have a Super Bowl commercial, which according to Sporting News, was upwards of $6.5 million for a 30-second ad on NBC in 2022. Nielson reports that women comprise 46% of the Super Bowl viewing audience, meaning that an ad may find a relevant audience. However, according to previous Glossy and Launchmetrics data, Rihanna is the most significant MIV contributor to her brand. A multi-million paid ad spot might not drive as much impact as the halftime performance itself.
But aside from the paid and unpaid advertising opportunities, there are softer approaches to marketing the brand, according to Bilal Kaiser, principal of creative and influencer firm Agency Guacamole. There are “Get The Look” makeup tutorials related to Rihanna’s performance look and her attendance at other parties and events that week. Even Fenty Skin products she uses after taking off her makeup could be highlighted. Fenty could also produce special collections featuring the products Rihanna uses for her halftime show.
“Done the right way, an organic product-led perspective and music perspective can be tastefully combined as one big pop culture Zeitgeist moment around the Super Bowl,” said Kaiser. “[I would recommend that] versus $5 million on a traditional blitz campaign on the Super Bowl. Based on everything we’ve seen, it wouldn’t strike the right note.”
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