3 Key Lessons We Can Learn From the Oscar Best Picture SNAFU

Article written by Angela Hydes, Marketing and Content Contributor. Follow us at @TALGroup.

On Sunday night, we all witnessed television history being made. For the first time, the Oscars became victim to an epic mix-up on live television, incorrectly handing the night’s biggest award – Best Picture – to the wrong film, La La Land .

In the 89-year running history of the Oscars, this has never happened before. Watch the chaos unfold below.

While the cause of the SNAFU is under investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers (the firm responsible for counting the ballots), they released a statement at around 3am EST 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.

As a woman executive in Marketing, I couldn’t help but watch in awe at how Hollywood’s finest handled such an epic fail. With grace and eloquence, class acts like Warren Beatty, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz and host Jimmy Kimmel jumped to add clarity to the confusion without stepping on toes.

Here’s my thoughts on some valuable lessons we can learn from yesterday’s events, and I’d love to hear your feedback as well! May the discussion on this hot topic begin.

#1 Trust Your Gut

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Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty read from the red envelope containing the winner Oscar for “Best Picture”. Beatty pauses before speaking, appearing confused. Image: ABC  News

It was apparent to everyone watching that Warren Beatty was struggling with the contents inside the red envelope, but he still allowed Dunaway to announce what she assumed was the correct winner. If he had spoken up prior to that moment, the entire crisis may have been averted. While it is understandable that on live television such an announcement may have been awkward, surely not as uncomfortable as the absolute chaos that ensued instead.

Our Lesson: Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t look right, it likely isn’t and we must speak up & act on it. As my grandma wisely says, “Assuming simply makes an ass out of you and me.”

#2 Go With the Truth Always & At Any Expense

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‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz holds up the winner card reading actual Best Picture winner ‘Moonlight’. Image: ABC News

Following the general trend of the evening, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz could have gone with the flow and accepted the award publicly despite realizing an error had been made. By doing this, he may have averted any embarrassment for the academy on live television and could have tackled the error in private afterwards. 

Instead, he chose to immediately and publicly acknowledge the mistake. He went with truth over awkwardness, and by doing so, confirmed the trust of his audience and live viewers. By holding up the envelope’s contents for all to see, he showed absolute transparency and in doing so, strong character. He would not accept an award his team did not fairly win.

Our Lesson: Don’t be afraid to be the whistleblower. If something isn’t right, speak up -otherwise injustice will prevail.

#3 Find the Positive

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Facepalm! Host Jimmy Kimmel reacts to the news that the wrong movie had been announced as winner of the Best Picture award. Image: ABC News

As the world watched in shock as the La La Land production team was halted mid-acceptance speech, I was stunned and impressed to watch Kimmel’s reaction to the entire debacle.

I don’t know what happened. I blame myself for this.” Kimmel explained. “Let’s remember, it’s just an awards show,” he continues. “I mean, we hate to see people disappointed but the good news is, we got to see some extra speeches. We had some great movies. I knew I would screw this show up, I really did. Thank you for watching. I’m back to work tomorrow night at my regular show. I promise I’ll never come back. Goodnight!

Quickly on his feet, without any preparation required, Kimmel was able to spin one of the most messy events on television to being positive. While he wasn’t able to entirely mend the situation, he did a fantastic job at taking ownership for it. He passed the blame onto no one and has since been praised by multiple media outlets for his grace in handling the messy scenario, which would have baffled many hosts before him.

What did you think about how the Oscar’s host and attendees addressed the situation? What could they have done differently? Comment below!

Looking to recruit or for a career change? Do not hesitate to reach out to us either on talgroup.net, in person at our head office, or by phone (+1 416 599 1825). One of our recruiting experts would be happy to begin planning your recruitment campaign for you.

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