Three things brands should take away from Rihanna’s performance at the Super Bowl

If you’ve not heard the name “Rihanna” uttered in the past 72 hours, you’ve been hiding under a rock. The Barbadian superstar’s half-time performance at this year’s Super Bowl has been heralded as a moment for baby bumps, Northern Ireland and – if you’re in the marketing world – product placement.

Pulling out a powder pact from her Fenty Beauty brand for a quick touch-up mid-show, RiRi set Twitter alight with the likes of pop culture commentator Gibson Johns claiming to be “truly obsessed” with her move. It’s been claimed that Google searches for Fenty jumped by 833 per cent during the performance, making it the fourth most-Googled topic of the night.

Of course, product placement wasn’t invented last Sunday night. La-Z-Boys in Friends, Reese’s Pieces in E.T., Manolo Blahnik in Sex and The City, and National Geographic in It’s a Wonderful Life are just a few examples that fans can recall at the drop of a hat. (If you’ve ever seen The Holiday, take a look at the moment where Kate Winslet’s character takes out her BlackBerry on the plane – I’m proud to say I played a small part in securing this one).

But Sunday night was a reminder of how important influencer marketing can be in helping products fly off the shelves (when it’s done well).

So, what lessons can us marketers learn from this event? For me, there are three key takeaways:


As Rebecca Stewart from AdWeek noted about the Fenty moment: “Crucially, none of it felt cringeworthy or forced. For fans, it felt natural – expected, even.”

Obviously not every business enjoys the luxury of a celebrity founder to amplify their product, but there is a plethora of influencers to create content with, across more platforms and via more formats than ever before. However, with the Creator Economy estimated to be worth over $100 billion, the power balance is shifting. It’s no longer just about a brand’s expectation of what an influencer should deliver, it’s about creating campaigns with long-term value for an influencer’s community (and thereby your community!) at the centre.

(Rihanna spoke on the inclusion of product placements in her videos just for the sake of it over 10 years ago).


Early data from Nielson suggests that Sunday’s game averaged 113 million viewers, making it the third most-watched television event of all time.

With such a large audience ready and waiting, arguably there wasn’t much more the Fenty team needed to do to gain attention (which is no doubt why brands pay up to $7 million for a 30-second slot). Instead, they went all out with limited edition “game day products”, a game day hub on the website, a pre-game pop up store invite, as well as scouted and commented on all Super Bowl content featuring Rihanna.

Whether it’s across in-store retail media, media partnerships, partner channels or TikTok content, consider all the ways your partnership can be amplified (and don’t forget to make the path to purchase nice and easy!).


It may feel strange to put this at the last point given it should be the first thing you consider! However, I can imagine that Teams meetings are being scheduled up and down the country with department heads questioning how they can get the “RiRi effect” from their influencer partnerships.

If you’re going to invest in influencer marketing (or indeed any new initiative), be clear on what metrics you’re using and why from day one. And then spend proper time understanding your audience to ensure you understand the channels and content that will resonate strongest.

We’re 12 months away from the next Super Bowl half-time extravaganza. Next year’s star certainly has big shoes to fill, but there’s certainly enough for us marketers to utilise until then.