A pageant’s image is its main source of stature and future income. So when a pageant’s image has been damaged, the organization has to pull all their resources to control the damage and salvage the trust or support that is left. Fairness, equality, integrity, honesty and sensitivity should be the cornerstones when building your pageant brand.
Coming up with a list of the most damaging controversies to a pageant image is indeed very subjective and difficult to quantify. No matter how hard I would try, there would be no way for this to look objective as this is my personal thoughts regarding the matter. I wouldn’t dare say that my list would be taken as the absolute regarding this topic but it could offer some points that is up for discussion and healthy debate.
Coming from a ‘branding’ point of view the scandals and controversies listed here below, I can surmise that these definitely hurt the image of the pageant.
6. The Miss Universe 1979 Stage Collapse – this has to be one of the most embarrassing moments of the pageant that almost every pageant fan has forgotten. Having a stage collapse was something that no pageant could ever live down, IMHO, as it will be something that people will talk of and passed on as pageant trivia. But this happened to the Miss Universe pageant held in Australia in 1979. The stage collapsed after the pageant has finished its telecast where a number of the candidates fell and got hurt. At least two girls suffered mild injuries were taken to the hospital. A recorded 20 girls were said to have fallen into the hole. The part of the stage that collapsed created a hole that was 9 feet long and six feet wide. It was attributed that the additional weight of the photographers going onstage was the culprit for the stage collapse. That was the headlines the following day which eclipsed the crowning of Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela. Thankfully for the pageant, it didn’t happen during the live telecast as that would have been more damaging to the pageant’s image.
5. The Miss Grand International Resignation of Anea Garcia – this definitely trumps the Body Shaming Issue involving Miss Iceland or the lack of food at the hotel for the candidates that was last year’s dilemma. According to the memo released by the MGI organization, Anea’s dethronement was due to her inability to do her work as winner as her studies conflicts with her schedules as winner and that she was asking/ demanding requests that were not part of her contract which included her grandmother living with her in Thailand. Shortly thereafter came several screenshots that were leaked that showed the correspondence of Anea to the org. It included her concerns over safety as she was tasked to travel alone to South Sudan without a MGI chaperone and assistance during her trip. Other issues she pointed out were representations of her on social media which includes misrepresentation on quotes and nice high-quality photos to be posted, as well as providing enough living allowances for food and basic needs. This is a serious issue as if the organization cannot take care of the well-being and safety of their winner, then it puts serious questions on the integrity of the pageant.
4. The Miss World Apartheid Issue – this has been one of the controversies that the pageant hasn’t been able to escape up to this day. Back in the 70’s the Miss World allowed South Africa to send two girls to compete in Miss World, one black and one white. It was back when the issue of the Apartheid was a major global issue. A white Miss South Africa (Jillian Jessup, MW 4th runner up) and a black Miss Africa South (Pearl Jansen, MW 1st runner up) both came and competed in the pageant. Both also became runners up in the 1970 edition of the pageant. The following years also saw two delegates from the country and was named Miss Africa South and Miss South Africa. This practice continued until 1976. A number of participants withdrew from the pageant or had their governments requested them to pull out from the contest due to the apartheid policy. This happened in 1976 with 9 participants and in 1977 with 11 candidates. Such magnitude of international protest against the South African Apartheid issue saw countries taking a political side. Since its inception in 1951, no black South African has won the Miss World title, all of them were white. It is said that the Miss World allowed the two Misses South Africa to compete to allow the black Miss South Africa representation in the pageant. But it was not the message that the world received as most believed that such act perpetrated the racial divide and even promoted it. Equal rights defenders would say that such policy of allowing 2 candidates in the MW contest sends a simple message that the only way a black Miss South Africa can compete is when a white Miss SA is also represented.
Final part coming soon…