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Jeff Kagan: Oscar PwC Goof Caused Real Brand Damage

It may take a while for PricewaterhouseCoopers to come back from this...
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

Via lincolnblues

We’ve all had a good laugh over the PricewaterhouseCoopers goof at the Oscars. Actors and presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were embarrassed. The Academy Awards were embarrassed. And PricewaterhouseCoopers was embarrassed. A deeper problem is, this may also have caused lasting, long-term brand damage to the Oscars, to PricewaterhouseCoopers and to Warren Beatty.

A brand is a funny thing. It is often built or damaged by either important or trivial events. While the Oscars are not an important event, this does have a world-wide audience. That means powerful repercussions. After all, isn’t that the reason PricewaterhouseCoopers has enjoyed the limelight over the years? While this was not a difficult job, it did give the company a high level of recognition. That is now damaged.

Burning Phone Damaged Samsung Galaxy Brand

This mistake cost PricewaterhouseCoopers plenty. Their image and brand was blown to hell at the Oscars with this simple screw-up. Even if their investigation shows the problem was not theirs, the damage is done. And damage of this kind will be very costly to the company and to the Oscars. The question is, can they recover?

This issue won’t go away soon. Future Oscars won’t be able to proceed without a mention of this disaster. That will reignite the fire. And will the Oscars fire PwC and bring in a competitor? That would make matters worse…

The problem may not have to do with PwC. Instead, I have heard people say the problem is with a representative of PwC, who got all caught up in the excitement and may have messed up. All that had to happen was Warren Beatty should have looked at the envelope and said, this is the wrong envelope. But he didn’t.

So, could this one incident cause that much damage and screw up a powerful brand? Yes, it can. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next, but this is serious brand damage. Similar to the Steve Harvey mess-up with Miss Universe last year.

Motorola, Blackberry and Nokia Brand Damaged

Some mistakes are hard to walk away from and recover from. Many other companies have also had major screw-ups as well. Think about the recent burning of Samsung Galaxy phones. Can they recover? I don’t yet know. We’ll have to wait and see. They have a new, coming out party for their next smartphone in the next few weeks. We’ll see.

Motorola (MSI), Blackberry (BBRY) and Nokia (NOK) didn’t do anything wrong or embarrassing, but they fell from the number one spots as well, when they were at the top of their game a decade ago. First, Motorola lost leadership to Nokia. Then 10 years ago, Apple (AAPL) iPhone and Google (GOOG) Android hit the market and totally changed the smartphone marketplace. Today, Apple and Google lead and Motorola, Blackberry and Nokia have fallen to the back of the pack. Serious brand damage.

Cable TV Industry, Comcast, Charter in Early Stages of Brand Damage

The cable television industry is going through the same kind of transformation. Comcast (CMCSA) and Charter (CHTR) were leaders, but are now losing customers. They are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to compete with new competitors. First it was IPTV like AT&T (T) Uverse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism (CTL). Now it’s AT&T DirecTV, mobile TV and wireless TV which are changing everything.

In addition, with AT&T DirecTV success, Verizon (VZ) is also wondering how to compete. They have talked about potentially acquiring a cable TV company like Charter, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

Bottom line, industry after industry are reinventing themselves. Innovation is creating new sectors like mobile TV. New competitors in existing spaces are threatening to change leadership. There is so much chaos, and that will only intensify over the next few years.

With all that said, this is no time to be sitting on the sidelines. The marketplace is changing and now is the time to lead. Remember the old saying, either lead, follow or get out of the way.

The marketplace is changing. It will look different as we move forward, just as it looks different from ten years ago. Leaders will transform and create the new marketplace going forward. Followers will follow their lead, but not create new industry direction. Everyone else should get out of the way. It’s that simple.

And take care of the simple stuff. Protect your brand. A brand can take years or decades of hard work to build, and a split second to destroy. Beware!

Jeff Kagan is an columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected] His web site is Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan

Copper, base metals, and industrial commodities face bearish technical trends, but the fundamentals remain bullish.