What Savage X Fenty Can Teach Us About PR
“It’s a mood thing for me, girl. It’s a mood thing always.” Rihanna in Savage X Fenty Vol. 2
Savage X Fenty Vol. 2 premiered on Amazon Prime last Friday and it was a glittering display of design, music and sensuality. @badgalriri further solidified herself as a multi-faceted creative visionary who continues to school the fashion industry on what inclusivity truly looks like.
The Fenty team has mastered how to command the collective’s attention by creating a moment in time and media; and the star-studded Savage X events are a perfect example of what is possible when creativity, talent and PR come together to make magic happen.
Whether you’re a fashion designer or a financial firm, there’s a lot to learn from the luxury lingerie line about executing a killer public relations campaign. Read on for an analysis of the PR behind Savage X Fenty and what the brand can teach us about moving the needle forward.
Breaking the mold
Every great PR campaign starts with a newsworthy event, and Savage X Fenty certainly checked that box.
For more than two decades, Victoria’s Secret was the singular point of reference for televised lingerie-themed fashion events. But the goliath bra and beauty retailer had been criticized in recent years for lack of diversity and skewed standards of beauty.
Noticing this gap and carrying a vision of how to fill it, Rihanna created Savage X Fenty, a lingerie line which caters to people who don’t just look like Adriana Lima—so, basically, everyone! The premiere of Savage X Fenty Vol. 1 single-handedly broke the mold for televised fashion events, and the brand continued to ride that momentum into this year as well.
In Savage X Fenty Vol. 2, Rihanna speaks on her creative process:
“When I imagine something, I imagine everyone that I know and love being a part of it. I want to make stuff that I can see on the people that I know, and they come in all different shapes, sizes, races, religions.”
Walk the walk
Today, many brands toe the line between adoration and cancellation. How these brands handle the cancel culture mob, though, is what truly makes or breaks them—and Rihanna is no exception.
During the Savage X Fenty Vol. 2 performance, one of the tracks played (“Doom” by Coucou Chloe) samples a hadith, a sacred Islamic text. This caused backlash from some viewers, with many saying this oversight was disrespectful towards the Muslim community.
As a company that touts diversity and inclusivity as its main pillars, Savage X Fenty has a heightened responsibility to be mindful of cultural sensitivities. Recognizing this, Rihanna acted swiftly and issued a statement through her personal and Savage X Fenty channels directly apologizing to the Muslim community.
This is a great example of how to handle a crisis situation, and how to diffuse the cancel mob. Another brand may have ignored this incident or refuted the criticisms, but when you’ve offended your supporters, the best route is to listen and learn.
Army of influencers
One of the smartest things Savage X Fenty does PR-wise is tap a variety of amazing creators and performers to participate in the show. These range from musical acts like Miguel and Bad Bunny to celebrities like Paris Hilton and Demi Moore to supermodels like Bella Hadid and Irina Shayk.
In my opinion, though, where Fenty really differentiates itself is through the incredible behind-the-scenes and up-and-coming talent that also participates in the show like Raisa Flowers, Nadia Lee Cohen, Precious Lee, Miss5thAve and hair stylist Yusef—just to name a few.
Having one very influential person like Rihanna deliver your message is wonderful, but having an entire collection of influencers vouch for you is what really creates trust and momentum around the brand.
All of these influencers engage their followers and include them in the Savage X Fenty universe, creating microcosms of support for the brand. This promo is invaluable and is what really takes Savage X Fenty’s PR to the next level.
Social media game strong
Savage X Fenty certainly has one of the strongest social media games in the lingerie and fashion fields. Even when they are not staging an international streaming event, they have a beautiful Instagram feed (plus Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook) with brand partners ranging from Megan Thee Stallion to Miki Hamano.
They also have been serving up some targeted ads since the launch of Savage X Fenty Vol. 2. I know because I’ve been targeted (not that I’m mad about it).
Today, having a strong social media presence is more important than you may realize. In addition to establishing your digital footprint, it also helps drive sales and makes you more searchable.
Google’s search feature doesn’t have as strong of a hold as it once did, with many young people now using social media platforms to search for products. In fact, in a 2019 survey by Facebook IQ, 83% of respondents said they use Instagram to discover new products or services; and 54% said they made a purchase immediately after seeing a product or service on Instagram.
Queen RiRi has mastered music, makeup, fashion, and the art of PR. Through her Savage X Fenty line she has proven that lingerie can and should be inclusive, as should its marketing efforts. Now if only she'll tell us when her next album is coming out!