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Blame It On the Oscars Envelope

Blame It On the Oscars Envelope

Published : 28 February 2017 Author : Liz Rivers

That is what we’re being told. Blame the envelope for the biggest stuff-up in Academy Awards history.

There are two sets of identical envelopes kept on stage at the Oscars – one on either side. Each envelope is emblazoned with the award category and this should ensure that the PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives who hand the envelopes to the presenters do so correctly.

We are being told that the envelopes used this year were hard to read. The whole shebang is being referred to as #envelopegate

None-the-less, after performing this duty for the 83 years, PricewaterhouseCoopers now has more than just a little egg on their corporate face.

I’ve been asked numerous times over the past 12 hours why PricewaterhouseCoopers is involved in the Oscars. “What’s the benefit? What’s their role?”

Their main role is to manage the ballot (voting) process on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

There are massive benefits to having an independent organisation (although not necessarily an accounting firm) manage auditing and tabulation-associated awards tasks:

  • It provides assurance that the voting has not been rigged or doctored in any way
  • The chance of the winner being leaked before the big announcement is reduced exponentially. (In the case of the Oscars and many of the awards that we’ve managed on behalf of clients, not the clients nor the presenters know who has won until the announcement has been made.)
  • The auditors provide a buffer between the member organisation hosting the awards and the nominees – a critical chasm that protects the awards hosts if a crisis occurs, such as the announcement of the wrong winner.

This final point is vital. Our research over the past 20+ years has shown that there are three reasons why nominees will choose not to enter a specific award, and one of those reasons is that the awards suffer from a credibility crisis.

This is exactly what is happening with the Oscars right now.

Yet PricewaterhouseCoopers are the buffer that is stopping the whole movie industry from pointing the accusatory finger at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

In a video on their website, PricewaterhouseCoopers state: “The reason we were even first asked to take on this role was because of the reputation PwC has in the marketplace for being a firm of integrity, of accuracy and confidentiality.”

It’s true. PwC have a great reputation. So does the Academy – and by using PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage their awards assessment process, the Academy will maintain their credibility throughout this crisis.

So from the Academy’s point of view it does not matter that the Academy itself bought the envelopes which were hard to read – what is pivotal to the awards credibility is that one of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ two Oscar ballot managers handed over the wrong envelope.

As Goggle says “Aw... Snap. Something has gone wrong.”

 

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My name is Liz Rivers, and I started undertaking unique research more than 20 years ago on what makes awards successful and what judges are looking for when they assess your entry... read more

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