Rihanna has signed on to become the new face of Puma. Starting in January, the pop star will serve as the brand's global ambassador for Women's Training and the creative director for Puma Women.
The multi-year partnership is part of the shoe line's recent aggressive push to increase its market exposure. Puma exec Bjorn Gulden conceded that Rihanna is not the first person who comes to mind when one thinks about athletics, but he defended her selection. "Market research shows that Rihanna, although she's not an athlete, is an icon for our main target group," said Gulden. "She is putting strength to the brand in an era when we need it."
The company initially sought a female athlete for the role, but it found few with true "global appeal," so they turned their attention elsewhere. "Sports and lifestyle go hand-in-hand today—functional fabrics and tight fits are no longer reserved for the gym," Gulden told the Wall Street Journal. "[She] probably has to work out more than many athletes to remain as fit as she is."
Ri was reportedly drawn to Puma when it became clear the company wanted more than her face plastered on ads. "It's great to find a brand that celebrates strength and individuality," said the singer in a statement. "I couldn't think of a more perfect partner to collaborate with as a creative director. I'm excited for you to see what Puma and I come up with."
A multi-platinum singer, Rihanna joins with athletes Usain Bolt and Mario Balotelli, who have been integral to the company's recent "Forever Faster" campaign, and fellow singer Solange, who just released her second line late last month.