• Big 4

    PwC Not Talking Up Its Role in the Academy Awards This Year, Obviously

    By | February 1, 2018

    The Golden Globes were a few weeks back, and it caused me to reflect on how an awards show should go for the accounting firm that tabulates the ballots:

    Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for this year’s Oscars. Naturally, this was the perfect time for Senior Partner, Chairman, and Speaker of the PwC House, Tim Ryan, to roll out the new and improved procedures that are designed to prevent a SALY:

    Tim Ryan, PwC’s U.S. chairman and senior partner, told the Associated Press that he will be personally involved with Oscar operations this year. He also said a third balloting partner will sit with Oscar producers in the show’s control room in addition to the two balloting partners stationed on either side of the Dolby Theatre stage — and that person will have a complete set of winners’ envelopes and commit the winners to memory.

    One other change this year that has maybe been overlooked is that, aside from Tim Ryan’s interview with the AP, PwC is not promoting its involvement in the Academy Awards at all. This move seems obvious since the Best Picture envelope mix-up was a massive humiliation, and the firm gains virtually nothing by touting its involvement after such a public mistake, but the absence of press releases and a flood of social media posts about the comings and goings of a moderately priced attache is not insignificant. PwC had spent years boasting about its role in the ceremony, giving countless interviews in print and on TV, explaining some of the finer points of its process (e.g., no bathroom breaks, memorizing the winners), and now all that promotion has come to a screeching halt.

    In an email obtained by Going Concern, Tim Ryan shared his thoughts on how to handle the inevitable questions that many people will have about this year’s ceremony. He wrote, “while we all wish the events last year hadn’t happened — we can be very proud of how we responded and of our continued role in serving the Academy,” noting that the firm “immediately took responsibility” for the mistake, was “humble,” and “willing to learn and change.”

    Finally, Ryan asked the recipients of the communique to “not speculate about what happened last year or to make any comment at all on social media or to any outside organization,” if prompted.

    And his request seems to be heeded so far. A quick search of #ballotbriefcase on Twitter finds no mentions since July. At this time last year, there were already hundreds of posts. PwC has not issued a press release about its involvement, and the page on the firm’s website discussing the balloting has been removed.

    A spokesman for Tim Ryan declined Going Concern’s request for an interview.

    The Oscars will broadcast on March 4 this year. We (and everyone else) will be watching PwC very closely to see how things unfold.

    • Commando

      Whatever happened to that loser partner who screwed up? Wasn’t he a big shot? What does he do now, read the Wall Street Journal all day long?

      • Big4Veteran

        I feel bad for the guy. He used to have a big party at his house the night before the Oscars and brag to everyone about knowing who all the winners are. I guess he can’t do that this year.

        • Commando

          How do you feel bad for an obvious douchebag?

    • Big4Veteran

      My take…

      While it is certainly a smart move for PwC not to talk up its role in this year’s Oscars, I have a hard time believing it wasn’t at least a two-way decision. I bet one of the MANY conditions given to PwC by the Academy for keeping this engagement is that the firm had to stop promoting their role so much.

      PwC hyping up its role with the Oscars hasn’t been going on for a long time. It was just in the last handful of years that the firm really stepped it up (e.g. having its own red carpet, sending the briefcase around the country on tour, etc.). Prior to the last few years, PwC would just do an interview or two and put some info up on its website around Oscar-time. I think the marketing by PwC got out of control, and the Academy doesn’t like that (especially when PwC then goes and completely fucks up its one and only job…and a very, very easy job at that).

      P.S. For the past several years, there has always been an article by one of the trade magazines or newspapers about PwC’s methodical ballot counting process, including PwC’s plans for how they would immediately respond to an error. I’m sure we’ll be seeing that article this year, but it will have a much different tone.