PricewaterhouseCoopers Brand Takes a Massive Hit

Accounting powerhouse apologizes for Best Picture mix-up

Headshot of Richard Horgan

In the immediate aftermath of the Oscars incident hashtagged #envelopegate and #oscarsfail, attention quickly focused on the pair of PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives who had traveled to the Dolby Theatre earlier in the day toting separate full sets of winners’ envelopes.

Martha L. Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, pictured above with NBC Los Angeles reporter Robert Kovacik in a photo taken at PwC’s downtown L.A. office Feb. 24, journeyed per usual separately to the site of the Oscars and were posted at opposite sides of the stage once the broadcast began. While Cullinan decided to delete all of his backstage Oscars tweets, it is via that same medium that his firm’s accountability for the mix-up is now being shared.

Here’s the full statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers:

We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. 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.

The entity of PricewaterhouseCoopers is much older than the Oscars; Samuel Lowell Price set up shop in London in 1849. The firm has handled this end of the Oscars for all but six of the ceremony’s years. If the partnership continues, it will rank as another great Hollywood comeback story.

Leading up to this year’s ceremony, Ruiz and Cullinan penned several pieces for The Huffington Post. And in what now ranks as one of the most prescient articles of film awards season, HuffPo entertainment reporter Matthew Jacobs shared on the same day that the above photo was taken an article headlined “What Would Happen If a Presenter Announced the Wrong Winner at the Oscars?” The PwC reps explained their protocol should a false winner be declared:

“We would make sure that the correct person was known very quickly,” Cullinan said. “Whether that entails stopping the show, us walking onstage, us signaling to the stage manager–that’s really a game-time decision, if something like that were to happen. Again, it’s so unlikely.”

Update (11:00 p.m.):
Pricewaterhouse Coopers has issued a second apology, in which it more clearly underlines a key part of the breakdown:

Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner.

The additional statement from PwC coincided with the New York Post sharing an advance look at its Feb. 28 front page. It’s  more bad news for Cullinan.

Photo via: Twitter

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.
Publish date: February 27, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT