Rihanna stunt gives us 81 million reasons to do ‘IRL’ creative

Rihanna stunt gives us 81 million reasons to do ‘IRL’ creative

Fenty has delivered its first in-person experience in Shanghai, taking over the Fotografiska with “Fenty Beauty Alley” – and its amplification was stratospheric, says David Ogiste, founder of Nobody’s Café.

Fenty’s recent activation was a prime example of the kind of amplification that can happen when brands go all in on ‘IRL’ experiences.

Rihanna touched down in Shanghai on Tuesday night and immediately got to work. She made Chinese pancakes, interacted with fans and local influencers, and appeared on three livestreams on Douyin, China’s TikTok equivalent.

The superstar was in town to promote Fenty Beauty, which entered the mainland China market through Sephora in February. In conjunction with her visit, Fenty Beauty launched its first pop-up in mainland China, called Fenty Beauty Alley.

The pop-up is located at Fotografiska Shanghai, which opened near the Suzhou Creek last fall. The immersive space features charming local elements, including a vintage street grocery store, a Mahjong room, and a bubble tea stall that also serves as a shade finder.

The space blended local culture, vintage elements, contemporary aesthetics, and bright neons.

Highlights included a Mahjong room and a Sephora bubble tea stall that doubled as a shade finder for the brand’s foundation, along with makeup stations and a music room.

Then, the brand’s founder joined and made Chinese Jian Bing – a popular breakfast similar to pancakes – with a TikTok stream reaching…81 million views.

This got me thinking: what could brands truly achieve if they went all in on their brand experiences?

Not everyone has Rihanna, but they do have their own brand ambassadors. Generally, big names are paid big money for digital ads, but rarely seen up close and in real-life at brand experiences.

As for going all in, some brands don’t even post their brand experiences on owned channels and then wonder why their experience didn’t get much reach. 

Crucially, brands need to think about the wider strategy to see the impact brand experiences can deliver beyond the IRL.

Making IRL the focus, not the side piece, with real creative thinking behind the content surrounding the experience: from the appearances, partners and social strategy is what made Fenty’s activation truly shine.

If you get the fundamentals right brands can see the real impact that IRL experiences can have: maybe even 81 million streams and 600,000 likes!

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