Have you been following the increasingly strange story of Rihanna's 777 media tour? For the last week she's been promoting her new album Unapologetic by flying a bunch of fans and reporters around on a Boeing 777 as they hit seven cities in seven days together. By many accounts, it started off with the festive party-bus atmosphere you might expect, but as the junket went on and Rihanna refused to actually make an appearance or give any interviews, things descended into a sort of Spinal Tap-like mess of angry (and drunk) reporters -- and at least one streaker.
Now that the 150 bloggers, reporters, and fans have landed in New York, stories have been pouring in about the disastrous tour details, including Rihanna's permanent no-show status, long delays on the tarmac, exhausting schedules, an overabundance of booze and a lack of food.
Rihanna's response to the whole debacle? "I would definitely do it again." Whaaaaaaaat?
As it became more and more apparent that Rihanna's media tour would not actually include any media exclusives, and the conditions deteriorated ("One person was basically responsible for not only regularly keeping us from doing our jobs, but from sleeping or eating or going outside or even using a bathroom"), reporters started getting punchy. One person made a "Missing" poster that was circulated via Twitter:
Also, an Australian DJ ran the aisle buck naked in an attempt to lure Rihanna out of hiding:
Rolling Stone described the moment when Rihanna finally made an appearance in front of the press she'd invited. It was on day 6 of the 7-day tour.
And then a strange figure darkened the door of first class. She walked out with shades on, making her way down the aisle. There was less enthusiasm from her, less from us; we weren't the same people we were six days ago, when we first boarded the plane. No champagne showers; many of us were hungry and tired, a huddled and disinterested mass. It was almost like Rihanna didn't (or doesn't) know of anything beyond her seat: with a smile that curled up and out, she said, "I would fuckin' do this again!"
Rihanna has now addressed the tour that her handlers had promised would be a “once-in-a-lifetime” ride for her guests, saying,
This has been an experience the I will never ever forget. I barely slept. My sleeping was all done on this plane. (...) I know you guys got barely any dirt. But I had to be good. I still sound like sh--. It's impossible to spend time with everybody, and I'm sorry I didn't. But this was excellent and I would definitely do it again. I would do this next time with more people, more cities and sit back with the the fans more ... I had to preserve my health. Normally, I'd be back here popping bottles with y'all ... I had to preserve my voice. I was worried about my body more than partying on the plane, so I had to just sleep whenever I could. I hope you guys had as much fun as I did.
Well, based on the many, many reports of her boozing it up with her own entourage during the tour -- and delaying flights for hours as she went shopping -- I doubt anyone's buying the whole "I had to preserve my body" thing. It's hard to know what she was thinking with this media event, really. My best guess is that it was cooked up by her label and she wanted nothing to do with the whole thing.
In terms of the there's-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity adage, it was clearly a success. But if the intent was to foster good media relations, Rihanna couldn't have created a bigger disaster.
What do you think of Rihanna's 777 tour? Do you think Def Jam is regretting the whole thing?
Image via Rihanna Now