In his analysis of the group's influence on 21st century popular culture two decades after their debut, John Mckie of the BBC noted that while other stars had used brand endorsements in the past, "the Spice brand was the first to propel the success of the band". The Guardian's Sylvia Patterson also wrote of what she called the Spice Girls' true legacy: "[T]hey were the original pioneers of the band as brand, of pop as a ruthless marketing ruse, of the merchandising and sponsorship deals that have dominated commercial pop ever since."
The phrase "girl power" put a name to a social phenomenon, but the slogan was met with mixed reactions. The phrase was a label for the particular facet of post classical neo-feminist empowerment embraced by the band: that a sensual, feminine appearance and equality between the sexes need not be mutually exclusive. This concept was by no means original in the pop world: both Madonna and Bananarama had employed similar outlooks. The phrase itself had also appeared in a few songs by British girl groups and bands since at least 1987; most notably, it was the name of British pop duo Shampoo's 1996 single and album, later credited by Halliwell as the inspiration for the Spice Girls' mantra.
In the late 1990s, Spice Girls parodies appeared in various American Sketch comedy shows including Saturday Night Live (SNL), Mad TV and All That. A January 1998 episode of SNL featured cast members, including guest host Sarah Michelle Gellar, impersonating the Spice Girls for two "An Important Message About ..." sketches. In September 1998, the show once again featured cast members, including guest host Cameron Diaz, impersonating the Spice Girls for a Sketch titled "A Message from the Spice Girls". Nickelodeon's All That had recurring sketches with the fictional boy band "The Spice Boys", featuring cast members Nick Cannon as "Sweaty Spice", Kenan Thompson as "Spice Cube", Danny Tamberelli as "Hairy Spice", Josh Server as "Mumbly Spice", and a skeleton prop as "Dead Spice".
The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and was frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them. In October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, they began touring management agencies. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry Writers, producers and A&R men in December 1994 at the Nomis Studios, where they received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction. Due to the large interest in the group, the Herberts quickly set about creating a binding contract for them. Encouraged by the reaction they had received at the Nomis showcase, all five members delayed signing contracts on the legal advice from, among others, Adams's father.
In March 1995, the group parted from Heart Management due to their frustration with the company's unwillingness to Listen to their visions and ideas. To ensure they kept control of their own work, they allegedly stole the master recordings of their discography from the management offices. That same day, the group tracked down Sheffield-based Producer Eliot Kennedy, who had been present at the showcase, and persuaded him to work with them. They were introduced to record producers Absolute, who in turn brought them to the attention of Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment, who signed them to his company in March 1995. During the summer of that year, the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles with Fuller, signing a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. Their name was changed to Spice Girls, as a Rapper was already using the name "Spice". From this point on until the summer of 1996, the group continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the west coast of the United States, where they signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific.
The Spice Girls have starred in several television specials, documentaries and commercials since their debut in 1996. They have hosted various television specials. In November 1997, the Spice Girls became the first pop group to host ITV's An Audience with...; their show featured an all-female audience and was watched by 11.8 million viewers in the UK, one fifth of the country's total population. They have also hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Top of the Pops television specials on BBC One. Concert specials of their 1997 Girl Power! Live in Istanbul, 1998 Spiceworld Tour and 1999 Christmas in Spiceworld tours were also broadcast in various countries.
Other notable groups of people have been labelled as some variation of a play-on-words on the Spice Girls' name as an allusion to the band. In 1997, the term “Spice Boys” emerged in the British media as a term coined to characterise the “pop star” antics and lifestyles off the pitch of a group of Liverpool F.C. footballers that includes Jamie Redknapp, David James, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jason McAteer. The label has stuck with these footballers ever since, with John Scales, one of the so-called Spice Boys, admitting in 2015 that, "We’re the Spice Boys and it’s something we have to accept because it will never change." In the Philippines, the “Spice Boys” tag was given to a group of young Congressmen of the House of Representatives who initiated the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada in 2001. The Australian/British string quartet Bond were dubbed by the international press as the "Spice Girls of classical music" during their launch in 2000 due to their “sexy” image and classical crossover music that incorporated elements of pop and dance music. A spokeswoman for the quartet said in response to the comparisons, “In fact, they are much better looking than the Spice Girls. But we don't welcome comparisons. The Bond girls are proper musicians; they have paid their dues.” The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) doubles team of Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova, two-time Grand Slam and two-time WTA Finals Doubles champions, dubbed themselves the "Spice Girls of tennis" in 1999. Hingis and Kournikova, along with fellow WTA players Venus and Serena Williams, were also labelled the "Spice Girls of tennis", then later the “Spite Girls”, by the media in the late 1990s due to their youthfulness, popularity and brashness.
Spiceworld: The Movie broke the record for the highest-ever weekend debut a film on Super Bowl weekend (25 January 1998) in the US, with box office sales of $10,527,222. Spiceworld: The Movie topped the UK video charts on its first week of release, selling over 55,000 copies on its first day in stores and 270,000 copies in the first week. The Return of the Spice Girls Tour was announced as the highest-grossing concert act of 2008, measured as the twelve months ended April 2008. The 17-night sellout stand at London's The O2 Arena was the highest-grossing engagement of the year, netting £16.5 million (US$33 million) for the group and drawing an audience of 256,647, winning the 2008 Billboard Touring Award for Top Boxscore. In total, the 47-date tour took in more than $70 million and produced $107.2 million in ticket sales and merchandising.
Wax sculptures of the Spice Girls are currently on display at the famed Madame Tussauds New York wax museum. The sculptures of the Spice Girls (sans Halliwell) were first unveiled in December 1999, making them the first pop band to be modelled as a group since the Beatles in 1964 at the time. A sculpture of Halliwell was later made in 2002, and was eventually displayed with the other Spice Girls' sculptures after Halliwell reunited with the band in 2007. Since 2008, "Spiceworld: The Exhibition", a collection of over 5,000 Spice Girls memorabilia and merchandise, has been showcased in museums across the UK, including the Leeds City Museum in 2011, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in 2012, Tower Museum in 2012, Ripley's Believe It or Not! London and Blackpool museums in 2015 and 2016, and the Watford Colosseum in 2016. The collection is owned by Liz West, the Guinness World Record holder for the largest collection of Spice Girls memorabilia. The Spice Girls themselves have contributed items to the exhibition. "The Spice Girls Exhibition", a collection of over 1,000 Spice Girls items owned by Alan Smith-Allison, was held at the Trakasol Cultural Centre in Limassol Marina, Cyprus in the summer of 2016. "Wannabe 1996-2016: A Spice Girls Art Exhibition", an exhibition of Spice Girls-inspired art, was held at The Ballery in Berlin in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the group's debut single, "Wannabe".
As a group, the Spice Girls have received a number of notable awards including five Brit Awards, three American Music Awards, three MTV Europe Music Awards, one MTV Video Music Award and three World Music Awards. In 2000, they received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to the British Music Industry, previous winners include Elton John, The Beatles and Queen. They have sold 85 million records worldwide, achieving certified sales of 13 million albums in Europe, 14 million records in the US and 2.4 million in Canada. The group achieved the highest debut for a UK group on the Billboard Hot 100 at number five with "Say You'll Be There". They are also the first British band since The Rolling Stones in 1975 to have two top-ten albums in the US Billboard 200 albums chart at the same time (Spice and Spiceworld). In addition to this, the Spice Girls also achieved the highest ever annual earnings by an all-female group in 1998 with an income of £29.6 million (approximately US$49 million). In 1999, they were ranked sixth in Forbes' inaugural Celebrity 100 Power Ranking.
The group's comeback single, "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)", was announced as the official Children in Need charity single for 2007 and was released 5 November. The first public appearance on stage by the Spice Girls occurred at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, where the group performed at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. They performed two songs, 1998 single "Stop" and the lead single from their greatest hits album, "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)". The show was filmed by CBS on 15 November 2007 for broadcast on 4 December 2007. They also performed both songs live for the BBC Children in Need telethon on 16 November 2007 from Los Angeles. The release of "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends" peaked at number eleven on the UK Singles Chart, making it the group's lowest charting British single to date. While the album peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart. On 1 February 2008, it was announced that due to personal and family commitments their tour would come to an end in Toronto on 26 February 2008, meaning that tour dates in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Cape Town and Buenos Aires were cancelled. Overall, the tour produced some $107.2 million in ticket sales and merchandising, with sponsorship and ad deals bringing the total to $200 million. In March 2008, the group won the coveted "Icon Awards" at the 95.8 Capital Awards; Bunton and Chisholm collected the award. In June, they captured the Glamour Award for the Best Band; Bunton, Brown and Halliwell received the award at the event. In September, the Spice Girls won the "Best Live Return Award" at the 2008 Live Vodafone Music Awards, beating acts such as Led Zeppelin and the Sex Pistols. Bunton was there to collect the award.
In 2010, the group was nominated for a Brit Award in the new category, "Best Performance of the 30th Year" for their 1997 Brit Awards performance of their songs, "Wannabe" and "Who Do You Think You Are". The group later won the award which was received by Halliwell and Brown. The group along with Simon Fuller also teamed with Judy Craymer and Jennifer Saunders to develop a Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever!. Although the group were not in the musical, they influenced the show's cast and production choices in a story which uses the music, similar to ABBA's music in Mamma Mia!.
A jukebox musical written by Jennifer Saunders, produced by Judy Craymer and directed by Paul Garrington. Based on the songs of the Spice Girls, the show began previews at the Piccadilly Theatre, London on 27 November 2012 and had its Press Night on 11 December 2012 and features some of the group's biggest hit songs including "Wannabe", "Spice Up Your Life" and the eponymous "Viva Forever".
Spice is the 18th biggest-selling album of all time in the UK with over 3 million copies sold, and topped the charts for 15 non-consecutive weeks, the most by a female group in the UK. It is also the biggest-selling album of all time by a girl group, with sales of over 28 million copies worldwide. Spiceworld shipped 7 million copies in just two weeks, including 1.4 million in Britain alone—the largest-ever shipment of an album over 14 days. They are also the first act (and so far only female act) to have their first six singles ("Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1", "Mama"/"Who Do You Think You Are", "Spice Up Your Life" and "Too Much") make number one on the UK charts. (Their run was broken by "Stop", which peaked at number two in March 1998.)
Some sources, especially those in the United Kingdom, revere the Spice Girls as gay icons. In a UK survey of more than 5,000 gay men and women, Victoria Beckham placed 12th and Halliwell placed 43rd in a ranking of the Top 50 gay icons of all time. Halliwell was also the recipient of the Honorary Gay Award at the 2016 Attitude Awards. In a 2005 interview, Emma Bunton attributed their large gay fan base to the group's fun-loving nature, open-mindedness, and their love of fashion and dressing up, concluding that: "I'm so flattered that we've got such a huge gay following, it's amazing."
At the 43rd People's Choice Awards in January 2017, American Actress Blake Lively dedicated her "Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress" award to "girl power" in her acceptance speech, and credited the Spice Girls, saying: "What was so neat about them was that they’re all so distinctly different, and they were women, and they owned who they were, and that was my first introduction into girl power."