The Miss Universe of PR Stunts

Claire Volker Submitted by on the 22nd of December 2015

The Miss Universe pageant used to be a big deal. Last year’s event achieved massive viewership, with Nielsen’s rating agency recording it at 5.5 million. A few months later NBC cut ties with Donald Trump over dismal remarks he made about immigration laws in the US and Mexican immigrants in particular.

Fast forward to 20 December 2015. The NBC, sans Trump, broadcast the 2015 Miss Universe pageant and Nielsen’s recorded an 83% decline in viewership, down to a reported 925 000. The decline in relevance was astounding. Enter the conspicuous PR stunt.

Steve Harvey, the host of the evening, crowned the wrong winner. The crown was swiftly removed from Miss Colombia, who enjoyed less than two minutes of victory, and given to Miss Philippines. As expected, the Internet did not disappoint.

Globally the difference in talkability between the 2014 and 2015 crowning is nothing short of phenomenal.

2014: over a three-month period the #MissUniverse2014 hashtag attracted 65 147 mentions from 22 060 unique authors, with an opportunity to see of 338 354 423. The top three countries speaking about the event were USA, Venezuela, and the Philippines.

2015: Between 20 and 21 December alone, the #MissUniverse2015 hashtag attracted 5 748 897 mentions from more than 500 000 unique authors, with an opportunity to see of well over 3 trillion. Yes. Trillion. That’s a 98% increase in mentions over two days. The conversation has spread worldwide, and we will not be forgetting the Steve Harvey memes anytime soon.

The numbers speak for themselves: the viewership is inversely proportional to the online conversation and relevance of a dying brand.

The lesson: no one cared about Miss Universe before Steve Harvey ‘accidentally’ announced the wrong winner and took the crown off her tears-of-happiness stricken face. There won’t be a PR person on the planet who won’t say at least once, “let’s pull a ‘Miss Universe’”.


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