PriceWaterhouse Coopers before this year's Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26 was getting a lot of social media mileage out of its role as the accounting firm in charge of the ballots, a business relationship now in its 83rd year. Every Oscar night, the two accountants in charge of the 'ballot briefcase' get their moment on the famous red carpet alongside the nominees.
PwC not only set up a dedicated web page around the live event, it also made sure to put its two executives in charge of the ballots front and center with Twitter accounts and Huffington Post links.
But this year the firm was in the spotlight for a blunder, as the Best Picture envelope failed to make it out on stage with the two presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and the result was the wrong name being called for the final award of the night, "La La Land" instead of "Moonlight."
Experts say the lasting brand damage for the New York-based firm, the world's second largest by revenue, could be severe for a company that has built its reputation on accuracy.
PwC drew early criticism from the likes of Les Moonves, chief executive of CBS Corp. Others took to Twitter under the hashtag #envelopegate to compare the error to their preferred presidential election results and Steve Harvey's 2015 Miss Universe mistake.
For its part, PwC immediately issued an apology, in which it specified "Moonlight," "La La Land," Mr. Beatty, Ms. Dunaway and Oscar viewers. In the statement, the firm noted that the presenters were given the wrong category envelope.
"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," read the apology.
Experts agree the apology was the right move, but noted that PwC faces the task of rebuilding its reputation after such a public error.
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