Oscars 2016: Maitland boss Neil Bennett says PRs should look to the Oscars for inspiration on crisis management

Edith Hancock
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88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon - Inside
The 88th Academy Awards ceremony was a masterstroke in PR (Source: Getty)

In spite of accusations of a lack of diversity and everyday discrimination targeted at this year's Oscars, one marketing boss reckons the ceremony on Sunday night was one of the great PR miracles of our time.

Neil Bennett, chief executive of PR firm Maitland, told The Capitalist that for all the protests and boycotts surrounding the Academy Awards ceremony this year, last night went from a celebration of Hollywood's film industry to "crisis management on a global scale".

Bennett said: "It's good to see that Hollywood is still extremely good at PR. Faced with a howling frenzy, it was addressed with deftness and included all the right presenters and guests."

Diversity was undoubtedly the theme of this year's Academy Awards. Six actors and directors boycotted the ceremony on Sunday night, citing a lack of ethnically diverse nominees as the big issue.

For the second year in a row, not a single non-white actor was nominated for the main acting awards, even though 2015 saw stand-out performances from the likes of Idris Elba, Benicio Del Toro and Michael B Jordan.

US comedian Chris Rock set the tone with his opening speech at the ceremony, joking: "if they nominated hosts, I wouldn't even get this job!"

But by offering a platform for protest at the ceremony, Bennett reckons those behind the Oscars narrowly avoided a very serious image crisis.

With the Academy of Motion Pictures under uncommon scrutiny and facing unprecedented criticism, the organisation’s president Cheryl Boone Isaacs also addressed the issue, telling the audience: “Everybody in the Hollywood community has a role to play in bringing about the vital changes the industry needs so that we can accurately reflect the world today.”

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