The INSIDER Summary
• The Oscar best picture mishap occurred after Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope.
• “La La Land” was mistakenly called the best picture winner instead of “Moonlight.”
• While PricewaterhouseCoopers, which tallies the votes, has taken the blame, the Academy also quietly made a change in the envelope designer this year.
• The Academy told INSIDER in January it decided to internally produce the envelopes this year.
• The new design may have been harder to read.
Sunday evening’s big Oscar mishap resulted in “La La Land” accidentally being called best picture winner in place of the actual winner, “Moonlight.”
Oscars accounting company PricewaterhouseCoopers has issued two statements taking the blame for the mix-up. Warren Beatty was incorrectly handed the envelope for best actress in a leading role in place of the best picture envelope.
While PwC partner Brian Cullinan gave the wrong envelope to Beatty, there’s one big change to the Oscars this year which could have played a part in the best picture envelope mishap many aren’t talking about.
The Oscars made a big design change to the envelopes this year.
In January, INSIDER reached out to the PR team for Marc Friedland, CEO of Couture Communications. Friedland is the man who has been designing the Oscar envelopes and category cards for the past several years. We were told they were not handling the envelopes this year.
It wasn’t clear why Friedland wasn’t asked to design the cards.
Instead, the Academy communications team told INSIDER the envelopes were being produced internally this year.
If you take a look at the card in Beatty’s hand Sunday night, here’s what the Academy’s in-house envelopes looked like:
The gold font doesn’t exactly appear to stand out much on the scarlet envelope. When you take a look at the actual winner card, it’s not immediately evident what category you’re presenting an award for.
Sure, the winner is written clear and bold on the card, but the category is written small in script near the bottom of the card.
Since the Oscars, numerous people and designers have suggested the Academy Awards may have been able to prevent the best picture mistake with a better envelope design. Perhaps a bigger font in the future would help.
If you take a look back at the previous few designs from Friedland, it was much more clearer what award presenters were reading. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 2015 envelopes.
Here’s Cate Blanchett holding an envelope for “Leading Actress” in 2014. This year’s best actress envelope read “Actress in a Leading Role.”
The Couture Communications envelopes were basically dummy proof. They were adorned with a big placeholder in the center of the envelope announcing the category. After you opened the envelope, the card inside read “And the Oscar goes to…” with the winner’s name underneath.
The cards this year from the Academy almost read backwards when the readers eye moved down the card, as pointed out by Lauryn McCarter at the New York Code and Design Academy.
An extraneous Oscars logo appears at the top of the card followed by simply the winner’s name in bold. At the very bottom of the card in small script is the category name. If anything, the order of the three should be reversed. No one at the Oscars — let alone on stage at the Oscars — needs a reminder they are at the Academy Awards.
The 2017 best picture snafu may have been a result of an envelope mix-up from PricewaterhouseCoopers, but it may also signal that its previous envelope design was working.
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