In May of 2015, I wrote about Beyoncé and Jay-Z partnering with 22 Days Nutrition. Since then, I’ve heard very little about 22 Days and have yet to have anyone tell me they have used the service. But even before that partnership was made public, I wondered if Beyoncé was making a larger lifestyle play. (I selfishly hoped not because she is singular, a once-in-a-generation entity who defies the norms of celebrity.)
Her work with Ivy Park seems to be on better footing than House of Dereon because the line has done a great job of acting like de facto tour merchandise (and it helps that she wears it a lot). It’s personal in its name (Ivy Park invokes both her roots in Houston and her oldest child) and it was well-timed to capitalize on the athleisure explosion.
On the other hand, 22 Days Nutrition never seemed quite on Bey’s level of excellence, so I’ve always viewed the brand with some skepticism. Her latest promotion of it (yes, Beyoncé promoted something) has me even less enthused. She posted two shots.
Avocado? Tagging a brand? 5 exclamation points? This is BEYONCÉ, the woman who dropped a song the day before the Super Bowl, then showed up the next day to perform it to an adoring audience that was ready to sing along, lyrics memorized. And she wasn’t even the official headliner!!!!! (Now that deserves 5 exclamation points.)
Where does avocado, which is the Instagram food equivalent of #blessed, fit into her aesthetic? It doesn’t. Neither do the emoji choices. (I can’t believe I’m even discussing Bey’s choice of emojis.) As far as avocado goes, it’s not even that good of a picture.
There’s something about these posts – which both use the same caption – that feels sponsored. And that’s not a knock against sponsored content – I think it’s a very useful way for women (particularly actresses) to supplement their income. Get that fit tea money! But Beyoncé is not like everyone else. And she doesn’t explain, ever. The last time she included a personal note on Instagram was in November 2017 (condolences for a mass shooting) and the last time she used a caption was in October 2017. It’s a big deal when she decides to use her words (and emojis) on a visual medium, which is why these these 22 Days posts are so off-brand. It is not the Beyoncé we have been trained to recognize.
In a lifestyle context, Jay and Bey have done little to sell 22 Days. Consider successful celebrity lines like goop or Ciroc or The Honest Company. Gwyneth, Diddy and Jessica Alba share a lot of the same tactics -- constantly selling and using every interview, magazine cover and Instagram post to be a walking billboard for their products.
Another case study is Rihanna, who has done socks and shoes and athleisure, all through collaborations. But her crown jewel is of her own making. Rihanna IS Fenty Beauty. At the time of Fenty’s launch, Lainey said that “because Rihanna was front and centre, you believed that this wasn’t just a cash grab for her, you believed that she truly believes in what she’s selling.” To see her passion and vision of the world being channeled into excellent products is exciting and her enthusiasm is contagious. Rihanna loves Fenty Beauty and she loves that other women love Fenty Beauty.
That is where I think the disconnect with 22 Days Nutrition continues to be – it is not of Beyoncé. It doesn’t feel like this is an important part of her work – even though the caption says it is. As she notes, this is Coachella prep. Headlining a popular music festival (a year after postponing because of the holy twins) is not relatable, it is extra-ordinary, which we have come to expect of Bey. This is a problem in terms of lifestyle marketing, which must be anchored to aspiration or relatability. Brands like this need to bridge our lives to theirs – we may never have the same status, but we can cook the same recipes or use the same face cream. It’s about distilling their taste into something tangible. I don’t think 22 Days has captured that feeling.
It also doesn’t enhance the family business – a meal plan service is not empire building work, like Tidal. And while it’s fair to say anything Beyoncé does is interesting (yes, even eating avocado) and worthy of analyzation, does that attention translate into excitement for 44 days of plant-based eating?
There’s an unevenness to this whole venture, which is treated like an afterthought; she only remembers to mention it every couple of years, which makes me wonder how much she cares about the company. Or if she wants us to care. It took the 22 Days team a couple of days to repost her shot – why? A directive from her team or just lazy oversight?
Even House of Dereon, which seemingly disappeared without a trace, was closely tied to her work and her family – it was something she and Tina wanted to build. There is no such connection here. When Coachella is over and we are pouring over every hair flip and lip curl and hand gesture, will even the most devoted member of the Beyhive care what she ate leading up to the show? In the study of Beyoncé, 22 Days Nutrition has not secured a spot on the syllabus.