Was the Mistake at the Oscars a Publicity Stunt?


Photo courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

It was a PR nightmare of Miss Universe proportions. Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty erroneously announced “La La Land” instead of “Moonlight” as the winner of the Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards Sunday night.

It wasn’t their fault. Organizers provided the wrong information.

Price Waterhouse Coopers, the official accountant of the Oscars, released this statement today:

We sincerely apologize to “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.

At my core, I want to believe that show organizers view professionalism and credibility as top priorities, and that no one would intentionally pull a stunt like this for publicity. But my inner conspiracy theorist wonders if this was an intentional mess-up to get people chattering about the Oscars today. Just look at the amount of media coverage devoted to the 2015 Miss Universe pageant when Steve Harvey mistakenly announced the wrong winner.

No viewing audience has matched the 1998 Academy Awards when “Titanic” walked away with 11 awards. Check out the viewership statistics posted by The Guardian. Boycotting the Oscars has become a thing. In 2016, people boycotted over diversity issues. This year, the reasons for boycotting revolved around politics.

The San Diego Union-Tribune explains the boycott reasons nicely:

On one side of the political spectrum, conservatives and supporters of Donald Trump will skip the Oscars ceremony to protest “bitter people of the entertainment industry” including Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, both known for blasting President Donald Trump on live television. On the other side of the political spectrum, people objecting to Trump’s travel ban will use the Oscars as a stage to air their criticism.

So what’s an awards show to do? Perhaps the answer is in creating a video clip moment that is sure to go viral and keep people talking for days.

Are you looking to gain publicity on a local scale for your business or event? My advice is not to do it with a stunt such as this. Take the high road. Keep it classy. Your reputation is on the line.


Photo link.