It’s easy to see why the Rihanna 777 concept initially took off: over seven days, the singer would play seven concerts in seven different countries, which would be reached in a Boeing 777 aeroplane.
To achieve the exposure required to justify such an expensive piece of blue-sky thinking, 150 journalists, bloggers and competition winners were invited to fill the seats at the back. but things turned ugly on the Berlin-to London leg of the tour, when those in the cheap seats went into "full-scale revolt".
While the press corps chanted "save our jobs!" and "just one quote!", one of their number – Australian journalist Tim dormer – ran naked through the plane. "We hadn't seen [Rihanna] since the first flight from La to Mexico. People were very tired and very drunk… but people did calm down afterwards,” said one plane traveller, on condition of anonymity.
"It wasn't like we were going to storm the front of the plane and drag her out.” To be fair to their hosts, the journalists hadn’t been entirely badly treated: VIP tickets to each of the (identical) shows, put up in nice hotels for the very short rest stops between each flight and showered with Rihanna-branded gifts.
But it hasn’t satisfied those hoping for quotes to fill the articles demanded by their editors. some of the expense will have been covered by the sponsors HTC and individual sponsors in each city. but the singer is reported to be personally responsible for the £200,000-worth of fines the plane has already racked up for missing scheduled take-off times.
Quite what exposure the singer’s record label were hoping to achieve is unclear, but the reports filed by those both on- and off-board are no longer about the singer. "The story is the plane itself and not Rihanna,” added our source. “For all we knew [Rihanna] wasn’t even on the plane.”
While the treat of just sharing the same circulated air as the pop star might have been enough for some fans, the working press have been irritated by being relegated to the ranks of the screaming fans.
“I think a lot of people were surprised that the journalists and fans were put on the same bus. It’s made it more difficult, people have resorted to interviewing the fans.”
The Barbadian musician is not the first to use air travel to promote herself in recent years. Pixie Lott flew a group of journalists to Germany in a branded plane and in 2007 Jamiroquai played a concert in a plane which set a number of world records, including highest concert. That record was broken in 2010 by James blunt.
With the final show taking place in New York City tonight, there has yet to be a comment from the singer’s camp, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if it was along the lines of the title of the album she is currently promoting around the planet: Unapologetic.