The Oscars 2017 faux pas!
The Oscars 2017 will go down in history for the wrong coronation of the Best Picture award. How can such a simple mistake have an incredible impact and most of all, how can you avoid it at your next event?
The whole world is in shock after the debacle at the Oscars 2017. In an incredible twist of events, what is one of the most basic parts of award planning went bad, like, really bad. How can one the most popular events in the world with over 220 million viewers screw up in such a rookie fashion?
Of course, events are live and things can always go wrong, but this will become the de-facto event fail. One that will be taught in school. Horror in the events community is spreading fast. But before we look at how you can avoid such a blunder, let’s look at…
If you missed the ceremony, Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope (Emma Stone’s best actress win) and thought to tip Faye Dunaway to announce La La Land as the winner of the best picture award.
The entire cast of La La Land proceeds to stage, receives the award and half way through the acceptance speech, the stage manager makes a frantic appearance on stage. Now if you work in events, you know something is not right. These are events rehearsed hundreds of times, every single detail is taken care of. No stage manager is to be seen.
In an incredible twist of events, the correct envelope makes it onstage and Moonlight gets the award it deserves.
Jokes were made on stage. The Steve Harvey Miss Universe blunder was promptly mentioned.
Oh no, this was no Steve Harvey. While the Miss Universe fail was horrible award card design, this was a rookie envelope management mistake.
Let’s look at how you can avoid a very embarrassing situation at your event.
1. Have More Than One Person Check Envelopes
This is a human mistake. There is no room for human mistake in the Oscars. You can easily override human mistake by having more than one person manage envelopes and add an extra step to the delivery of the envelope. In a similar fashion to how you have a pilot and a co-pilot on a plane, if the stakes are high, you should have more than one person assigned to the envelope management.
2. Use binders or Clearly Labelled Containers
Where are you keeping your envelopes? While no details are available yet as to what technically happened during the show, we can guess this had something to do with where the envelopes were held. The Oscar envelopes are a serious matter, there is a company looking after their integrity and seal. Please use envelope containers that are clearly marked with the moment of the event when they need to be given. Avoid Winner of Best Picture Award as a label and prefer BEST PICTURE in very evident handwriting.
3. Contain the Damage Before it is Too Late.
One of the worst things of the Oscars debacle was the fact that La La Land cast was let go on stage and started the acceptance speech. If you know a huge mistake has been made, you should intervene, fast. The damage turns into drama with every second that goes by. C’mon!
4. Prepare your Presenters for the Worst.
Warren Beatty did his best, but he was not reactive in any way. He should have stopped the ceremony and called someone. He made the decision that the envelope and a mistake on it and gave the award to La La Land. While we all love Warren Beatty, such an important moment required probably a better-briefed presenter. How could he improvise such an iconic moment. Why nobody told him that if there was a problem with the envelope, they should have immediately stopped. This should be part of the briefing for all presenters.
5. Stay Calm
I feel for the stage manager or the person who made the mistake. We are human, but we are also event professionals. This incredible drama is probably the result of a hyper-stressed, hyper-tense person who could not handle the pressure of the moment. While it can happen to all of us, not all of us manage the Oscars, the mother of all award ceremonies.
In events the devil is in the details. While it may be easy to judge and point the finger, we are humans and mistakes happen. Yet it is incredible that such a structured event had no back up plan or more layers of envelope management.
What do you think about what just happened? Who is to blame?
Author: Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com