Fenty Wins Best Super Bowl Ad with Zero Marketing Spend

By Henley Worthen · February 17, 2023

Fenty Wins Best Super Bowl Ad with Zero Marketing Spend

Super Bowl LVI’s best ad didn’t spend a single penny, much less $7M for a 30-second time slot.

In fact, Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII halftime show was more popular than the game itself – 5 million more to be exact (her performance brought in 118.7 million viewers, while the game saw 113 million). Many joked online that the halftime concert, which is always one of the most anticipated musical events of the year, was the main event that just happened to include some football. Like celebrity Cara Delevingne’s shirt that read “Rihanna concert interrupted by a football game, weird but whatever”.

This year’s Super Bowl was the first time Rihanna has performed live since 2018 and rumors were swirling. Many took to Twitter to discuss who might be Rihanna’s special guests. Some spectators predicted the Super Bowl show could be her first stop on a world tour. Others thought we might get a sneak peek of a long-awaited album release (it’s only been 7 years since Anti premiered). But let’s face it, as one of the most successful pop artists of the 21st century, Rihanna has way too many bangers to fill the 13-minute performance herself.

Just because she didn’t drop new music (yet) doesn’t mean she didn’t drop plenty of other bombs during her show.

But first, let’s look at what Rihanna has been up to since 2016 while she was on a musical hiatus.  

  1. She became 2022’s youngest self-made billionaire
    • How did she do it? Certainly not through the $0.003/stream music streaming services like Spotify pay artists. In today’s music biz, many artists are extending into adjacent categories to make money. For Rihanna, her beauty and skincare brand, Fenty, has been her big cash cow.
  2. She premiered in the blockbuster film Ocean’s 8 in 2018
    • Rihanna appeared in the Ocean’s 11 spin-off amongst a star-studded cast of actresses from Anne Hathaway to Sandra Bullock. The movie brought in heaps of praise and over $300M at the box office.
  3. She launched FEИTY in 2021 under the LVMH umbrella
    • The singer launched a luxury fashion house under the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand name becoming the first woman, and the first person of color, to do so.
  4. She started the Savage X Fenty lingerie line
    • “Everything Victoria’s Secret wishes it could be” according to Fashionista mag. Rihanna’s first lingerie line hit the runway in a 2019 fashion show featuring Halsey, Migos, and Big Sean.

Aside from her impressive career milestones beyond the music industry, Rihanna also became a mother, was declared one of 11 national heroes of Barbados, and made large contributions to COVID-19 relief efforts and the fight against climate change.

Although Rihanna has made far more money from her beauty, skincare, and fashion arms, all of these brands are centered around one thing: her music. Of course, the Super Bowl was the perfect place for the artist to integrate all her brands and music at the highest level of visibility…and so she did.

Super Bowl halftime artists aren’t paid for their performances. That said, the business-savvy superstar forged a partnership with newcomer halftime sponsor, Apple TV, to create a documentary film Road to Halftime covering her preparations and behind-the-scenes moments from the big show.

The mogul also developed a line of “Game Day” Fenty beauty products and Savage X Fenty sportswear centered around the Super Bowl.

During her half-time performance, Rihanna became the first woman to ever perform at the Super Bowl while pregnant. When she rubbed her belly at the beginning of her show, Riri fans went wild. On top of that, she became the first artist to ever promote their own brand during a halftime performance. 

Not only were all performers wearing Fenty clothing including herself, but she also paid homage to her beauty line. At the beginning of “All of the Lights,” the singer pulled out her Fenty Invisimatte compact and lightly patted the product into her skin.

According to Pop Base, the Fenty beauty brand soared by 833% after the halftime show. Let’s see how the brand performed on social video… 

Pregame Activations

In the days leading up to the performance, Fenty Beauty was popping off on socials. 

Promoting her “Game Day” specific makeup line, is a video that shows a variety of Fenty foundation shades coloring different footballs. This video aligns with the “oddly satisfying” trend where sound and visual effects create a meditative experience for viewers. Additionally, it shows off one of Fenty’s core values: Inclusion. Through her beauty brand and beyond, Rihanna has become an emblem of diversity. Her first Fenty foundation drop featured a whopping 40 different skin tones.


That #FENTYGAMEFACE never fumbles! 💯🏈 Start the play with a layer of #HYDRAVIZOR to tackle any SPF worries 🌞 Then, touchdown on #PROFILTRFOUNDATION for that fresh AF, soft matte flex 💪🏿💪🏾💪🏽 #GAMEDAY is just 6 days away, so re-up on the essentials now to prep for the big day at the 🔗 in bio, @sephora, @sephoracanada, and #sephoraxkohls 🏆

♬ original sound – Fenty Beauty

The brand also promoted the #ShowStoppr kit that included a cute Super Bowl-themed pack with all the Game Day beauty essentials. Inside the kit was the infamous Invisimatte product that the queen herself would use during her performance.

The Team Fenty #ShowStoppr kit was launched in Atlanta, Georgia where the official #FentyTailgate was held. This event generated tons of user-generated content for the brand. By the start of the Bowl, there were already 300k views about the Team Fenty Tailgate.

Post Game Activations

In case you missed the epic performance, you can catch it on YouTube here. The official NFL video already has 53M views in 3 days and growing.

The post-game TikTok reactions were also off the charts. With over 2.5 million engagements in just 3 days after posting, this video says it all. We see Riri applying her #Invisimatte makeup as “All of the Lights” begins. The video addresses all swirling rumors and anticipation saying “Y’all wanted a special guest, right?!”. 

The special guest was Rihanna’s iconic Fenty Beauty product and yes, it has had its own iconic TikTok moment.

On Super Bowl day, February 12th, the product had under 9k views on TikTok. In two short days, that viewership number skyrocketed to 20.8M.

TikTok viewership on Fenty-related content skyrocketed by +278% SuperBowl weekend.

Rihanna didn’t drop new music, but she achieved a lot of firsts. First self-made billionaire to perform the Bowl halftime show. First pregnant woman. First Afro-Caribbean. And…. first artist to plug their own company and create a huge splash. Fenty Beauty has made an epic impact in the beauty industry by setting a precedent of inclusivity and diversity. With Rihanna and her iconic music at the center, the brand has quickly become a favorite amongst makeup artists and beauty lovers. 

The overwhelming amount of user generated content spurred from just a 3-second product cameo on live TV reminds us how powerful social video can truly be. 

We’ll be keeping tabs on the link between viewership and consumer behavior for the Fenty brand and report back soon!

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