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We’ve all seen popstar Rihanna pop up on stages around the world over the past few weeks, performing hits from her new album ‘Rated R’. But there is more than to her reappearance than just a bunch of new songs.

The singer’s comeback is designed to revitalise her brand as well as her career after a very public episode of domestic violence against Rihanna by her ex-boyfriend, fellow singer Chris Brown earlier this year. Her return to the spotlight has been managed carefully by a marketing agency.

According to AdAge, Rihanna got in touch during the summer with Steve Stoute, founder of marketing agency Transition and asked him to handle her comeback. Stoute says that his work with the singer is more about building her brand than standard record-company marketing.

“With brand work you gotta run a marathon. You can’t just put out a single, sweep an issue under the rug and get out of it through popularity,” says Stoute.

Pre-assault, Rihanna’s brand was largely that of a young, lithe popstar. She appeared for Procter & Gamble’s youth-focused beauty line Cover Girl (a deal which apparently continues) as well as signing a deal with Totes-Isotoner for a range of branded umbrellas, referencing her smash hit “Umbrella”.

Part of the issue for Transition and Stoute was not that Rihanna had been assaulted – clearly not her fault at all – but that she had not spoken out about the attack. Questions were still being asked about her relationship with Brown since she had not given interviews about the assault.

As a result, the singer was booked with well-known interviewer Diane Sawyer’s show 20/20 for a tell-all piece, which drew 8.18 million viewers. According to AdAge, calls to domestic violence centres in the days following the interview among women were up 59%, with a 72% increase among teen girls, Rihanna’s core fan base. Going into the interview, Mr. Stoute and his team divided Rihanna’s audience into three camps — advocates, indifferent and antagonists. He claims that all three showed positive response to the interview.

So what now for Brand Rihanna? Can she move away from being associated with domestic violence and move back to being a desirable starlet? Or is that not the best move at all – should she sign up to promote anti-domestic violence marketing campaigns?

Let me know your thoughts.


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4 Comments

  1. Rihanna and her campaign execs have done a good job of getting her career back on track. To keep the momentum up in a positive way, she should focus her efforts more on assisting others and being an advocate for domestic violence groups. This is of course if she is ready emotionally to handle that.

  2. If there’s one thing that the modern media shows us, it’s that any publicity is good publicity. The sordid personal lives of Brittney Spears and the outrageous actions of Kanye West give them constant media attention. As long as they are on the front pages at the grocery store check out line, they’re on our minds. I won’t say that it’s best for the stars’ personal lives, but it is free constant exposure.
    That being said, Rihanna has a different public imiage to uphold than Britney. I would love to see her speak up on domestic violence. It would provide the perfect pheonix-from-the-ashes image for her personally and raise awareness for an issue that is too-often pushed under the rug. She could continue the move from starlett to empowered Star, like Tina Turner. It’s a win-win.

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