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Friday, February 12, 2016

What Miss World Needs Now - My Thoughts Following the Year that was 2015

An Open Letter to the Miss World Organization:

I have been a loyal fan and supporter of the Miss World Organization for 24 years. Through the highs and the lows, I stood by Miss World. I have defended the pageant, traveled to attend the pageant and sent in suggestions and feedback. Why? Because I love Miss World and everything it stands for. I don't want Miss World to fade away into obscurity. I want it to prosper and be successful.
HOOKED: I started following Miss World in 1991. Despite the fact that it was one of the worst productions in the history of the pageant, I was hooked and I've been a fan ever since. Note that even then it was called "The World's Most Coveted Beauty Title" 

Yes, I am aware that I am only a fan, and that running an organization like this one is something that I have no real knowledge of and, yes, I understand that putting on an event of such a magnitude year after year only for it to be ripped to shreds and criticized from Albania to Zimbabwe must be daunting. I am sure that you have learned to grow a thick skin, because as long as business is still OK and there is still interest in it, things are not looking too grim. Well, I get that, but don't forget those who have been loyal to you, supported you and stuck by you when times were tough. We are a dying breed and we know you do not need us. However, we still have the passion that you need now. And, sometimes, you might just hear a few truths if you listen to use. For most of these (stinging) words are written with love... and the refusal to give up on something special.

I was disappointed by the way things were run in Sanya. I was not the only one. I am sure you know that. And I don't blame you for it. I know that sometimes it's hard in a country where there are so many rules and regulations. However, I do think the problem is now far greater than that. It's about the heart and soul of Miss World and you, the people that make it happen, are the only ones that can save our beloved Miss World.

I am not the most talented writer nor do I have  the best and the most insightful comments to make. But I have been there for 24 years, I love the Miss World Pageant and I have a thing or two on my mind, so kindly hear me out, please.

What Miss World Needs now:

1. A REALITY CHECK
ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE: Staging a national pageant requires passion, determination
and the ability to keep trying and willingness to face a lot of rejection

It's 2016. It is becoming more challenging to keep banking on the pageant's rich and illustrious history. Yes, it is still helping now. But this will not keep you Miss World alive forever. Miss World needs direction, a plan for survival. Your biggest rival, Miss Universe, has just been taken over by WME/IMG and you can already tell that they are ready to do whatever they can, including date clashes, to show you that they are the leading pageant and that you will be left looking like a tired and defeated figure in their shadows. Donald Trump is no longer there to make his pageants a joke, which made yours look great without you even having to do anything yourselves. It's time for action.

The new owners are going to revive the Miss Universe brand. It is very evident that they have the celebrity aspect covered. They have connections. Miss Universe has been everywhere. She's been seen, heard and talked about. You have to fight back. They are also making attempts to slowly, but surely, change the sexist Trump-era image of the pageant. Yes, they have just been in power for a few minutes, but already the changes are coming. A subtle talent round first, what will come next? They are giving meaning to the title by forming new charitable alliances with Miss World territory charities, such as Smile Train. Have you not noticed that it might be a direct attempt to show that Miss World is not the only pageant that has "beauties with a purpose"?! In some areas, you still have an upper hand, but if you fail to act, evolve and move ahead with the times, you will be beaten at your own game.

There are reports that demands have been set for separate contests, girls are not allowed to compete elsewhere, televised finals, branding etc. etc. I do not know if this is true, but if it is... heaven's forbid that it actually is... all I can say is that on your travels to the places where people need help, you must have seen that times are tough. In some countries, pageants are still lucrative, but in most countries it is a STRUGGLE of epic proportions to put on a half decent show with sponsors and enough interest to at least make a small profit - let alone have it televised. How can your poor national directors do that when only ONE girl is given an opportunity and that will not even do much for them? Not in today's waning pageant industry.

Furthermore, if you do not even put on a decent expensive-looking pageant that is picked up by hordes of top broadcasters and networks, how can you expect it from your directors?!  In some parts of the world (like Asia), Miss World is still held in high esteem, so it might work there. Africa prefers Miss World, but there's not much money there. Demands would be senseless. Europe is apathetic to pageants and they rarely know the difference between Miss World and Miss Universe. And in Latin America, Miss Universe dominates. If you even think of setting demands there, you will just essentially suffocate what's left of the already out-of-breath brand there. It's time to go in and fight. Be seen, be heard. Follow the anthem: Light the Passion, Share the Dream (brand)!!!

2. THE ABILITY TO UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER
WORLD CLASS PHOTOS: World class event = world class events, world class show and world class photos

In recent years, bold statements have been made. "The Biggest Even in Beauty", "The World's Leading Beauty Event", "The Most Prestigious Event in Beauty", "It Promises to be the Most Spectacular Miss World Ever". More often than not, these big, bold promises have just been empty words. It seems like all the right intentions are there. And yes, I do see a spirited attempt from time to time. But it seems like it always starts of well and then very quickly it descends into unconfirmed events, changes or silence. The winner's reign usually starts off well and midway through the year it seems like you just give up and the reigning Miss World disappears until she hands over her crown. The month long festival of beauty sometimes starts off with huge energy and enthusiasm and after just a few days it seemingly runs out of steam or energy. Quiet, very few updates. People lose interest.

The final night usually starts off well with a bit of promise (actually the promos are often more exciting than the live final) but every year it's overshadowed by technical errors and a lack of excitement. Live TV has to be exciting and thrilling. There's a reason why every other show gets cancelled. Award shows like the Oscars, the Grammy's, the Golden Globes have been trying hard to reinvent themselves... Miss World is essentially now only an award show packaged as a variety show.
It is time for every part of the organization to start under promising and over delivering. I know it's just a family business and run by a small, but trusted staff, but then it can not really compete with an organization like the Miss Universe Organization who has a staff of about 30 or more people working 5 days a weak, nine hours a day to keep the brand going. That's a business. Having just a handful of people, you will never be able to keep up, let alone compete. If I could sponsor a PASSIONATE staff who want to liven up the Miss World brand, I would do it. I wish I had the resources to do that for you, because your brand has so much potential.

3. A PRODUCTION COMPANY FOR A DECENT PRODUCTION
THIS

IS

WORLD CLASS! 

I have touched upon this already, but every year we get the promise that it will be the most spectacular and lavish event in the history of the pageant. Every year it looks like a small budget affair with the same faces and the same music and the same script. It has really started to look like a third world, third class variety show. It's just not up to big event professional standards. A total revamp is needed. And by revamp, I am talking about the classic and most awe-inspiring revamps of Miss World. From the abysmal 1991 production to the majestic 1992 extravaganza. From the cute but stale 1997 production to the energetic and high fashion diva show that was 1998.  NOW THOSE WERE REVAMPS. You need a professional and esteemed production company! Inject some cash now and reap the rewards later. In Donald Trump's (sorry, he's such a clown, but it is a good slogan): words: Make Miss World great again!

And for heaven's sake: watch Miss USA, Miss Universe, Miss Supranational, Miss Grand International and Miss America to see that your production, at times, look like an amazing and elaborate top class private high school production compared to the real deal. If you really want to go all out: watch the last 5 years of Miss France productions and see what an absolute work of art each one is. And they reinvent themselves every year thanks to something simple like a them that used to work for Miss World. National pageant productions can't really outdo the final of Miss World!

4. CONSISTENCY

You have to say what you do and do what you say. It makes the organization look bad if you do things that you will go to Honduras and open a school in memory of a slain contestant, just to never do that and never bring it up again. Maybe there was a reason for it, but explain it to us, because if you promise things, people remember. Or they are reminded of it when they google. And that's not the only thing. In 2012 it was announced that Miss World will be in the summer from that year onwards, well it just happens to be back in winter now. What about visiting all the 2014 Beauty With A Purpose winning countries?  That never happened. Every year, there are promises that are made, but they just never work out. They are just quietly never mentioned again. It just does not really look good or professional. I toally understand that things happen, unexpected twists and turns as you work with a global network of people. It can't be easy, but perhaps you should just not announce anything until it has been set in stone. I still read the more than decade old article about plans to take the brand places, because back then at least there was a dream for the brand, just a pity that it did not quite work out. Even the royal family of England had to look at themselves and modernize their "brand". If even the Queen of England can't escape having to change with the times, Miss World surely can't either.

5. A NEW JUDGING/SCORING SYSTEM AND NEW JUDGES

I think it's good to have a month long look at the delegates to see who the winner should be, but for heaven's sake... is it necessary to have the same faces on the judging panel every year? Some changes are needed. Greater transparency in the way points are given is also needed.

How are the BWAP projects chosen? Some really amazing projects have failed to be recognised recently. Also, can all BWAP projects be compared? In some countries there is just so much more need and some organization provide more support to their delegates. I am not sure if it's fair to compare Kenya's with England's or Indonesia's with Australia's. I don't understand the scoring system. Maybe that's my why I can't comprehend the whole process.

Is the social media challenge event really fair seeing that some countries have fanatics and others are barely a dot on a map with very few social media activity. Filipinos and Vietnamese people go crazy for their delegates. How can poor Miss Samoa or Miss Slovakia compete?

The leaderboard jumps do not make sense at all. They seem so random. Cuts after nothing happened? Just a commercial break, and then the leaderboard reshuffling dramatically?  Most people are left perplexed.

Please no more Mike Dixon and Andrew M... I forgot their names... on the main panel. A national director should not sit on the main panel either. I think having a few Miss Worlds on the panel is not a bad idea, but maybe there can be a BWAP panel with former Miss World's and friends of MWO (like last year) and also a different panel with a few more familiar faces for the final night. I miss the days of people who were recognisable. Some interactive live scoring on the final night would be fantastic. Maybe the top ten can be interviewed. The top 10 parade that you now have is great. that's what we wanted. Just to show people that the final is not just an award ceremony. It's the age of technology. Live scoring is something that is used in almost every international event!!!

 6. A MARKETING DEPARTMENT / PUBLICITY MACHINE
BACK TO OLD TIMES: If the contestant gives up an entire year of her life, she should live in London and have a busy diary that fits a Miss World winner. Maybe a PR firm can be hired to take care of Miss World for the duration of her reign.

Miss World has been trying to get with the times. Miss World can now be found on facebook, twitter, youtube and that's great. Their website has improved but it's not enough. The website needs to be more high tech, the app did not work everywhere last year. Professional photos by a good photographer that the girls can keep after event would be great. The photos that were put up this year were just not on par. Maybe even have a Miss Photogenic as challenge event in the place of Beach Beauty will not hurt.

Also, Miss World needs to be promoted all year long. Sometimes the winner gets a productive reign, but other years it seems like the winner is not even used at all. I miss the days when Mrs. Morley could travel with the winner to many different countries, but understandably she can't do that anymore. It's too taxing. Miss World needs a travel manager. Someone who knows the business and the essence of Miss World. Someone who loves the brand as much as Mrs. Morley does and who will protect the brand as she did for so many years. Miss World needs to be seen. They have had stunning winners recently. Megan Young and Rolene Strauss, especially have been two of the most gorgeous winners ever. So much potential, but despite a few tours, both girls spent most of their reigns in their home countries. They could have done so much for the brand. It's really time to take Miss World to the people again.

7. A BIT OF GLAMOUR AND A WHOLE LOT OF PASSION
I think all of the above is enough to explain this last point.


I am aware that my "seemingly harsh" words might wipe the "loyal" and "supporter" out of my 24 year loyal and supportive fan (self-awarded) tag in your eyes. I have been warned that I will be put on the doomed Miss World blacklist for this, but you know what, they say: desperate times call for desperate measures. This is not a scathing attack on the Miss World Organization in any way, shape or form. So even though you might see this as a fan clearly overstepping the mark and riling you up, I see it as an attempt to reach out to you as an act of love, out of desperation to see the changes that will ensure that my beloved Miss World will start an evolution that will see her grow and prosper for many, many years to come.

5 comments:

  1. My wish is for the top 20 to be given a chance to parade in their evening Gown just like Miss Universe...The show is really boring...sad to say.

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  2. I think its the national directors, former queens, sponsors and friends close to the org should bring these issues to Julia and her team since its so hard for regular fans to reach the org, even if these issues are communicated we do not know if its read or noted by the people at the top.

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  3. The contestants should be introduced in their national costume and then Dances of the world should be there. Then the top 15/20 should compete in evening gown.
    And yes, please use new questions for the finale. The same question makes a girl so much like a parrot.

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  4. It seems to me that Miss World is a conservative pageant.

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  5. I agree with everything you have presented here. I predict you will see a decline in participating countries at Miss World if things don't change soon.

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