[Header image credit: Canva]
By Amanda Levine
Apple is joining an elite class of brands as a first time Halftime Show sponsor on February 12, and it’s a very big deal.
Rihanna is making her triumphant return to the live stage after a long six years away. In between, she’s been not-so-quietly establishing herself as a multifaceted businesswoman and innovator in beauty/skincare with Fenty Beauty and lingerie/activewear with Savage X Fenty. She has juggled it all while becoming a first-time mom with rapper A$AP Rocky. Amid all her successes, Rihanna’s fans have been anxiously awaiting her musical return, as she hasn’t released an album since 2016’s Anti.
Choosing Rihanna as this year’s Halftime Show performer is perfectly fitting for Apple’s first year of sponsorship. Apple, like Rihanna, are “brands” with music integral to their core DNA. Both are also known for being true disruptors, making their longevity in the marketplace inevitable and fandom stronger than ever.
Continuously reinventing herself, her music, and the projects she takes on, Rihanna is popular for her cross-genre pollination, singing and featuring on dozens of tracks with other music superstars. Some include Sir Paul McCartney, Nicki Minaj, David Guetta, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, and Eminem, among many others. Recently, Rihanna released her first song in over six years, Lift Me Up, for the movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. To many fans’ surprise, the song was a ballad, and it was so well received, it earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song in a Feature Film.
Apple also continues to reinvent itself. The brand completely altered the way we consume music in the digital age, most notably through the birth of iTunes and the Apple iPod. And while Apple is no longer selling iPods, it is continuing to innovate with programs and features to partner alongside popular Apple products and programs. The newest of those is the recently announced Apple Music Sing, where subscribers can sing along with their favorite tunes and enjoy lyrics on all Apple products. Think karaoke in your pocket.
Apple and the NFL stand to gain a lot with Rihanna as the Halftime Show performer. Rihanna brings a significantly diverse demographic and fans are waiting for anything she’ll do with bated breath. I predict that this coming Big Game – and specifically the Halftime Show – will have one of the highest viewership ratings ever, giving Apple an edge for its premier year of sponsorship. Apple will also benefit by using this as an opportunity to promote other products and services. For example, there will most likely be a promotion or push for subscribers to access the Apple Sing feature during the Halftime Show performance with exclusive music on Apple Music and content on Apple+. I also expect that we’ll be seeing several Apple ads during the game that promote some of the new, updated computer devices they recently announced this month.
It has also been discussed that there may be a Rihanna documentary following the game that Apple+ will launch on their streaming platform showing behind-the-scenes preparations for her game day performance. Apple+ will likely see subscriptions rise after the game, and even if indirectly, they will benefit from Rihanna’s creative marketing of her own products. She recently dropped a Halftime Show collection via her Savage X Fenty line with many of the items sold out already.
As a fan of both Apple and Rihanna, I can’t imagine we’ll be disappointed. Her recently released short video trailer is keeping us fans digging for any Easter eggs with what to expect from her performance. If her recent projects are indicative of what’s to come, it’s going to be a show we’ll discuss and remember for years.
Amanda Levine is TMA’s Senior Director of Music & Licensing.