If you feel like Rihanna is everywhere, you’re right. The singer has been on the cover of 19 magazine covers over the course of a year, including top-tier outlets like Vogue, W and Elle, both here in the US and abroad. And despite the ubiquity, they’ll probably keep putting her on the cover. Rih Rih sells magazines at a time when newsstand sales are on the decline.
“The singer was the winner in the cover star stakes in the all-important month of March, helping Harper’s Bazaar register a 0.8 percent increase in newsstand sales to 120,000 copies,” writes WWD. “That might not seem a lot, but Bazaar was bested only by its Hearst Magazines stablemate Town & Country, whose cover of actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw helped it boost newsstand sales by 25.3 percent to 43,500 copies, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.”
All other magazines saw a decline, with Seventeen magazine at the bottom of the pile, featuring fellow singer Meghan Trainor on the cover.
But the question is: Why Rihanna is so popular? And what should PRs and media types look for if they want to include an eye-catching celebrity image? Here are three pointers:
1. Check out the social media accounts of the celebrity in question. A celeb with a strong following has eager fans willing to spend a few bucks. And if you’re going to go for a celeb that isn’t a household name — like Mbatha-Raw — make sure the cover looks like a fantasy. This is one of the most gorgeous covers of the year, hands down.
3. Surprise readers. If you look at the crop of covers Rihanna has graced, her hair, makeup and styling are vastly different. From braids to a crop cut to long flowing hair, the variety is endless. And note: Her tattoos aren’t Photoshopped out but used as an accessory in some interesting ways. As a bonus, that Harper’s Bazaar cover was accompanied by a video in which Rihanna actually swam with sharks. Shorter version: She’s daring and people want to know what she’s going to do next. (Looks like it’s going to be this Dior ad campaign.)
This Karlie Kloss/Taylor Swift cover, for instance, is pretty, but that’s it. They’re beautiful, no doubt. But we knew that before they appeared in this photo together.
Ultimately, you have to put your own spin on the imagery if it’s going to make a splash. Relying on a famous name or a good-looking face simply isn’t enough.