PwC blew the 89th Oscars. If you thought this was the cushiest gig in history, you would have been right until February 26, 2017.

On that night PwC blew their job at the Oscars. They had already done the hard work of counting the Oscar ballots. Yet they failed at the most important part – handing the right envelope to the right people. They handed the best actress envelope which had Emma Stone for La La Land to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Instead they should have handed the best picture envelope to the presenters.


Listen to our podcast about the 2017 Oscars Mistake


PwC has two sets of each envelope which are split between Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz. Brian did not check the envelope before handing it off. Apparently there are statements of him saying that the most important part of the Oscars for him were to make sure the envelopes were right. He also stated that likelihood of an error at the Oscars was unlikely when he was asked by the HuffingtonPost.

Warren Beatty ended up saying La La Land won the best picture when in fact it was Moonlight. It was a shock to everyone’s system. There had never been a screw up this huge at the Oscars before. This is a huge embarrassment to PwC. I think this engagement might go up for bid next year.

We said in our previous Oscars 2017 post that PwC was not taking this job seriously enough. They goofing around trying to be celebrities and not being serious accountants. They were probably acting similarly backstage which ended up ruining the night for PwC when they handed Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

PwC issued an apology via twitter

You can tell PwC felt guilty because Brian Cullinan, who was the partner in charge of the Oscars for Pricewaterhousecoopers, deleted all of his tweets about the Oscars.

Here is a link to one of his tweets: Brian Cullinan’s deleted tweet


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What does this huge Oscars mistake mean for PwC? I think it means a humongous hit to their brand for at least a year. If they lose this engagement, I think it’s even a bigger hit. If i were them, I would offer to count these ballots for free next year.

Can you also imagine what it’s like working at PwC now? I’m sure many people’s clients are making fun of them on any conference calls. I think some clients are also going to lose some faith in PwC. It seems like a basic control to have someone check the envelope before they go out on stage. Yet you only have a Partner check that?

Partners do the least amount of work in the Big 4. Someone needs to do the work before it makes it to the partner but PwC should have already known that. Another thing is that these partners are highly paid, so they can’t just say it was an honest mistake. They are paid to not make honest mistakes in front of 200 million viewers.

This is such a huge blow to PwC. All the headlines in all the major news media today said “Hugest mistake in Oscars History” and next to that was PwC’s name. Talk about headline risk.


Discuss your thoughts on what this means for PwC in our PwC Oscars Forum