This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 2 Music Issue. Subscribe today!
THIS IS HOW absurdly impactful RiRi is: A dreary black-and-white Instagram shot of the tired pop icon lying down, in a selfie labeled "tuesday," drove almost 800,000 social media engagements.
So when sportswear maker Puma -- sinking under Nike's dominance and UnderArmour's rise -- wanted to re-energize its women's line, the brand tapped the 26-year-old icon to become its new women's creative director. "We said, 'It's pretty much Rihanna,' " says Adam Petrick, Puma's global brand and marketing director. "She has an amazing edge to her. She's pushing limits -- more so than Miley, more so than Beyonce." And her title is very real: Since December, the songstress has had a team of employees working with her on new products.
If anyone has the ability to make the brand cool again, it's the woman who has the power to drive the whole world wild in her sleep.