Tags: miss america | beauty pageant | competition

Killing Miss America

Killing Miss America
(Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

By Wednesday, 06 June 2018 04:31 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Gretchen Carlson — former Fox News host, former Miss America, and current chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization — just killed Miss America.


She ended Miss America’s swimsuit and evening-gown competitions, and eliminated all judgments of contestants based on physical appearance.

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a few days ago, Carlson said, "We are no longer a pageant; we are a competition."

Newsflash, Ms. Carlson: You also are no longer a business. You killed it. Why will anyone watch it now?

This is akin to deleting spelling from a spelling bee.

At its core, Miss America is a beauty pageant — with talent and trivia mixed in. It has conferred upon many women, including Carlson, great opportunities.

Without beauty as a central theme, however, as in Carlson’s new paradigm, beautiful women won’t participate. What then?

If people want to watch average-looking women debating politics and other intellectual topics, they have PBS and other TV options.

Maybe some are tiring of the format, but the 96-year-old “competition” holds up pretty well in the ratings, considering that it always competes with Sunday Night Football.

So, what’s driving Gretchen Carlson’s death decision, and why did the board consent to it? Allow me to speculate.

After Fox News didn’t renew her contract in 2016, she sued CEO Roger Ailes, now deceased, for sexual harassment. Ultimately, Fox News forced Ailes to resign from the network he founded and paid Carlson a $20-million settlement.

Subsequently, Gretchen became a warrior against sexual harassment: writing, speaking, and testifying about its extent in the workplace as well as remedies available to affected women.

She joined Miss America in January 2018, at the peak of the Me-Too news frenzy, after the organization’s CEO Sam Haskell and chairwoman Lynn Weidner were forced out for exchanging emails critiquing the looks and sexual activities of former pageant winners.

Not to minimize or trivialize the pain and anguish Ms. Carlson must have experienced at Fox News, I believe that it greatly influenced her strategy and decisions to radically alter Miss America. And, the shocking Harvey Weinstein saga didn’t help the situation.

Notwithstanding that, personal emotions and business are always a dangerous mixture. Objectivity is paramount.

Even though her intentions are noble and understandable, Ms. Carlson’s evisceration of the Miss America enterprise, as we knew it, makes no sense.

Branding is about the customer, not the vendor or its executives. Carlson violated that axiom.

By disregarding the chief reason Miss America attracts customers — and, therefore, advertisers — Gretchen Carlson killed it.

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs, speaker, media commentator, and author of "Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line" and "Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding." Find him at MarcRudov.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Gretchen Carlson — former Fox News host, former Miss America, and current chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization — just killed Miss America.
miss america, beauty pageant, competition
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 04:31 PM
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