So yeah, that happened. At the Oscars. The second biggest televised event of the year, next to the Super Bowl.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers is the company that tallies all the votes for the Academy Awards. They print the results on a master list that’s kept at an undisclosed location. They also print those results on cards that go into the red envelopes that get opened by the presenters during the actual show. They print two identical sets of those cards and envelopes, and give one set to one PriceWaterhouseCoopers representative who stands off to the left side of the stage, and the other set to another rep who stands off the right side of the stage. Before the presenters, for example, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, walk onto the stage, they are handed one of those twin envelopes. If they walk in from the left side of the stage, the left side PriceWaterhouseCoopers rep hands him his card, and if they walk in from the right side of the stage, the right side rep hands him her copy.
It seems as if one of the reps handed Beatty and Dunaway the duplicate, sealed envelope from the PREVIOUS winner, Emma Stone (best actress), instead of the winner for Best Picture. When Beatty opened the envelope and saw Emma Stone’s name, he got confused, and then handed the card to Faye Dunaway, who must have skimmed past the Emma Stone part and went straight to the La La Land part, and said what she said.
And the next few minutes will be the most popular stream on YouTube until Beyonce makes another announcement.
Flashback: When I was a kid taking piano lessons, and we had to play a couple of songs at the winter recital, our teacher had one very important tip: MAKE SURE YOU NAIL THE END OF THE SONG. You should try to begin the song competently, and you can afford to mess up a little in the middle, but never ever end the song with a mistake.
Maybe Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were a little nervous and didn’t pay close enough attention to what was written on the envelope or the actual card. Maybe one of the reps, the one that had the duplicate Emma Stone card, was so excited to meet Bonnie and Clyde that they pulled out the wrong envelope to hand to them. Maybe everyone backstage was focused more on the champagne and the crafts table.
Regardless, they had many chances to fix the problem before it got out of hand. Once La La Land was mistakenly announced, one of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers reps should have caught the mistake and stopped the La La Land people from walking up to the stage. Long before that, they should have had a more methodical way of doling out the envelopes, ESPECIALLY since they knew they had duplicates. Maybe Beatty and Dunaway should have taken initiative and just stopped the program as soon as they realized that something was hinky–they’re in the league of Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, so they’re allowed that sort of thing.
But they didn’t, and so I have something to write about.
I just think that for an event in which armies of paparazzi, red carpet bodyguards, hairstylists and makeup artists, dress fitters and dress makers, and trains and trains of broadcast trucks are able to be wrangled to run smoothly enough, that a set of cards and envelopes could be more efficiently organized. It’s like spending tens of thousands of dollars for a wedding, and the groomsman forgets the ring.
So what does this have anything to do with business?
When you make a powerpoint presentation, make sure that last slide is impactful, powerful. When you make a keynote speech, make them remember your last sentence. If you’re hosting a business dinner, don’t screw up dessert.
And whatever you do, make sure you nail that ending.