Anyone who cares about pop culture in 2016 is obsessed with everything Rihanna does — and especially with everything Rihanna sells. After her Manolo Blahnik capsule collection went on sale last week, the site crashed several times, while store sales remained "steady and constant," marking the collaboration as a straight-up success (even if the brand hasn't released sale numbers and revenue yet, which is just #rude).
According to Kristina Blahnik, the brand expected this level of performance from "a luxury, high-value product." The executive added, however, that she saw Rihanna's line primarily as a "pop project" and something "fun" — as opposed to, I guess, an exercise in smart business? But here’s the thing about Rihanna: She will sell the shit out of your shit. Just a week prior to the launch of her Manolo Blahnik collab, she was touted as Puma’s secret weapon in their ongoing rivalry with Adidas after the debut of her FENTY PUMA line. That line sold out 30 minutes after being released on April 29, with some pieces now going for as much as $500 on eBay.
And surprise! None of this is new. Rihanna’s magic touch has assisted a slew of major brands as far back as 2005, when P&G launched her Secret Body Spray Tour, with the then-17-year-old being seen as an ideal draw for the brand’s 14-to-17 demographic. They weren’t wrong. Last month, meanwhile, LVMH signed Rihanna to a rumored $10 million deal for a makeup collection. Why? Because "everything with her is off the charts."
Any informed observer would have to agree. This past January, the NPD Group crowned her the most marketable celebrity in the world. The study went something like this: A celebrity was considered to have a strong brand if fans were more than 50 percent likely to use a consumer product being endorsed because of that celebrity. Rihanna scored an index of 367, which made her 3.7 times stronger, endorsement-wise, than any other celebrity. (Whew.) In short: We are thirsty AF for Rihanna.
Rihanna is like the Regina George of our actual lives. If she wore army pants and flip-flops, so would we, and gladly. But to get a better idea of just how effective her mere presence is, here are a few of the bigger brands she’s worked with, her actual impact, and how we look at them post–Bad Girl RiRi. All in chronological order, of course (because #math).
When: August 2010
This Australian mobile company enlisted Rihanna to back a new ad campaign that saw her hanging out in space with a pair of penguins, and also promised to help a few fans win tickets to her Last Girl On Earth tour. Memories!
Before Rihanna: Well, it’s a massive Australian telecommunications company (specifically the second-largest in Australia), so it totally stood on its own two legs.
After Rihanna: Optus continues to be a massive telecommunications company, but recently, it "bungled" its Premiere League coverage, which we can probably go ahead and blame on not sponsoring Rihanna’s Anti tour.
When: October 2010
Nearly six years ago, Rihanna joined the ranks of Drake, Trey Songz, and Pitbull when she began representing the brand’s Easyshare digital cameras. (Which, like, sure!) In fact, she said that "as an avid fan of photography ... this was a natural fit," so there’s that.
Before Rihanna: Well, we certainly knew what Kodak was. Also, we once all owned digital cameras. Remember those?
After Rihanna: Not even Rihanna could save this one. The Easyshare software has since been discontinued, which we can blame exclusively on the demise of pre–phone selfie technology. R.I.P.
To ring in the brand’s 100th anniversary, Rihanna was recruited to "strip down" for an ad that led to some #controversy. In August 2012, Stefan Heidenreich — who ran Nivea’s parent company — had a cry about her image and the ads being "too raunchy" for the family brand, and Rihanna was let go. Oh boy.
Before Rihanna: Well, Nivea has been around for a century. Fine.
After Rihanna: According to a 2013 report, Heidenreich was reportedly doing well for the company, and sales were climbing. However, the parent company experienced a 1.9 percent drop in its first quarter this year, which we can only attribute to people wishing Rihanna was still featured in the ad campaigns.
When: 2011 and 2012
Alert all the presses! (Just kidding; they already went bananas over this campaign.) Rihanna’s ads were considered seriously #scandalous due to the amount of skin she revealed (which, in retrospect, really wasn’t a ton).
Before Rihanna: "Great suit! Is that an Armani?"
After Rihanna: I couldn’t find cold, hard stats, so let’s attribute any/all subsequent profits to Rihanna's influence.
From February 2013 (when her first collaboration with the brand debuted at Fashion Week) to October of the same year, Rihanna helmed three collections for River Island, and the world was better for it.
Before Rihanna: British retailer River Island was originally founded in 1948, but it didn’t operate under the name we now know until the 1980s. So pre-Ri, it was pretty well established.
After Rihanna: It’s official: River Island sales went up in the wake of Rihanna’s involvement. Let’s all scream "I told you so!" at everybody we’ve ever met.
When: July 2013
As part of the brand’s push to make Budweiser the Coke of music, the brand enlisted Rihanna and Jay Z for a global campaign that sought to "capture the creative spirit of a global generation, showcasing the many ways people create." Sure!
Before Rihanna: Bud. Weis. Er!
After Rihanna: People are very into craft beer, so that probably helps explain why Bud’s sales fell in 2015. In the immortal words of Good Will Hunting, it’s not your fault, Rihanna.
In 2013, Balmain’s creative director, Olivier Rousteing, rightfully declared Rihanna to be "an icon," saying that "when the woman that inspires you wears your creations, your vision feels complete." (I will say the same when Rihanna one day wears a dress made entirely out of my tweets.) As a result, she became the brand’s S/S 2014 spokeswoman.
Before Rihanna: In April 2011, Olivier Rousteing was given his position, and what a beautiful appointment that was.
After Rihanna: Well, I mean, profits have doubled every year since Rousteing took over, so we will for sure attribute all of it to his good taste (a.k.a. bringing Rihanna aboard).
What would the world have even been like had Rihanna not launched lipsticks and lipglasses for MAC’s Viva Glam campaign? (Empty and terrible, TBQH.)
Before Rihanna: It’s MAC! Neither MAC nor Rihanna were going to be made or broken by the presence of the other.
After Rihanna: Let’s try this on for size: In February 2015, MAC tweeted that Rihanna had raised $50 million for the MAC AIDS Fund during her Viva Glam campaign — the most ever in a single year. 🙏🙏🙏
When: May 2015
This time last year, Rihanna became the first woman of color to represent Dior and starred in a short film for the brand by Steven Klein called Secret Garden. It was magnificent, and few of us were worthy.
Before Rihanna: OK, fine, I admit that we all knew what Dior was before Rihanna was its go-to.
After Rihanna: Well, isn’t this interesting! Only two months after the launch of Secret Garden, WGSN revealed that Dior’s profits "soared" at the hands of then–creative director Raf Simons. And I quote: "Double-digit sales growth was seen for ready-to-wear during the same period, while leather goods also saw a significant rise; largely attributed to sales of the Diorama, which was marketed with a campaign fronted by Rihanna." Damn right it was. (And you are welcome, Dior.)
When: April 2016
Before Rihanna: Stance Inc. launched about six years ago, but quickly gained notoriety via Jay Z lyrics and endorsements by Haim and Santigold. The brand also aligned itself with the skate, surf, and basketball worlds, and is found basically everywhere.
After Rihanna: Rihanna has not only eased us into a conversation about socks, she has made us all seriously contemplate buying socks (... likely right after reading this).