The Miss America Organization is looking to change the way people think about the competition and its candidates, even as it tries to deal with disruption from its current Miss America.
The new social campaign, ‘#MissConceptions’ is designed to shatter the stereotypes about Miss America through the words of this year’s contestants.
As a lead-up to the September 9 competition on ABC, several short films created by Y&R New York are being rolled out on the Miss America Organization YouTube channel.
In the first, ‘Miss Conceptions,’ a title card states, “They aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer,” echoing what some may have thought of the pageant participants over the decades. That stereotype is followed by this year’s candidates talking about their ambitions and achievements, such as one woman aspiring to be a diplomat working on counterterrorism, another training to be a commercial jet pilot, while yet another talks of developing a prototype tile that generates electricity as you walk on it. All state that they are committed to making a difference in their communities and the world.
Two other videos show the candidates talking about the scholarship opportunities made possible by the competition, as well as how they use their positions to educate younger generations of girls on important subjects like human trafficking, sexual violence, mental health and other issues close to their hearts. In other words, this isn’t a ‘smile and wave’ crown nor a bimbo pageant.
Gretchen Carlson, journalist, writer, women’s advocate and chair of the Miss America Organization, said in a release: “Miss America is, at its heart, an organization that funds scholarships that allow young women to act on their dreams. It also gives them a very large megaphone to advocate for social causes that are important to them. This campaign will help us shatter some of the stereotypes that diminish both the competition and its candidates, empowering them to do great good and be positive role models. Rather than judging on their appearance, we are showing off their intellect, passions, talents and interests.”
Leslie Sims, chief creative officer of Y&R North America stated: “The Miss America show itself has always been an icon, but as a brand, its relevance was marching off a cliff – which is what happens when heritage brands don’t keep up with culture. Audiences have been shrinking, sponsors have been dropping off and the number of applicants was at an all-time low. Miss America 2.0 is a much-needed reboot, and it’s been amazing to work on reimagining the whole brand and experience.”
A new website is launching today (Aug. 29), along with additional details about the upcoming competition. Out of home, local TV and ABC promos are also planned.
The campaign comes as Miss America stated it would remove the controversial swimsuit competition and do away with judging based on looks. It also appears just as the organization deals with accusations from the reigning Miss America, Cara Mund, who wrote a letter stating that she had been “controlled, manipulated, silenced, or bullied” by Carlson and the board during her time as Miss America. Carlson has denied publicly that this is true, and stated that Mund’s letter cost the organization $75,000 in scholarship money.
In the past year, the Miss America Organization has redefined its mission: “To prepare great women for the world, and to prepare the world for great women.”