Information Design Fail: Miss Universe 2015

December 22, 2015

The Miss Universe 2015 Pageant took the internet by storm yesterday when the prestigious event’s host read the results card incorrectly, which led to the crowning of Miss Colombia as Miss Universe 2015 by mistake. Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe gaffe sets off an explosion of memes across the internet. He and the Miss Universe franchise was subject to a barrage of comments from different areas around the globe (or the universe?), but a few stood out – and it was about the information design of the results card.

To analysts and planners who will be tasked to prevent the same thing from happening again, these questions may be going through their minds:

  • Were there lapses during rehearsals?
  • What did he read?
  • What could have led him to read the card incorrectly?
  • How was he feeling while he was reading the card?

Let’s try to go through the questions one-by-one briefly.

Lapses during Rehearsals

Steve Harvey stated during a short post-event press conference that he went through the rehearsals, and everything was followed to the letter during the actual event night. Given that rehearsals are usually done to familiarize everyone with the sequence, positioning, and blocking, reading the actual result card template may or may not have been a detail that was paid much attention.

Emotions while reading the card

Even seasoned hosts of prestigious events can get caught in the emotions of critical moments in an event. We can only assume that Steve Harvey read the Miss Universe 2015 results card with as much as control over his emotions as he could. Emotions are important to consider since it may have an effect on the reader’s ability to focus.

The Results Card

Miss Univrese 2015 Failed Card Information Design

Miss Univrese 2015 Failed Card Information Design. Image captured from

Here was an image of the Miss Universe 2015 Elimination Card. To any person reading this under normal circumstances, this would have been easy to read. The labels are all there, and the Miss Universe 2015 title was even separated from the Runner Up titles, but why was there still a mistake?

Reading the Card

This was where Information Design could have played a vital role.

Information Design is usually mistaken for simply placing the labels and fields where they can be easily read, digested, and utilized. What many people fail to realize is that considering the who, what, when and where are as important as font, font size, and layout.

At the moment when Steve Harvey was to read the card, he was in the spotlight, and all the pressure was on him to deliver an important message – Miss Universe 2015. That much pressure can cause even experienced statesmen to commit mistakes, which was why most of them have teleprompters to read and they are usually read chronologically.


Announcing the winners of beauty pageants typically follow an order of lower-ranking winners first except for the 1st runner up and the champion. Usually, the name of the champion would be read before the first runner up, to make the declaration more entertaining and with better flair than being a matter-of-fact.

So, how should the Results Card have been laid out?

Offering Graphic and Information Design Studies

Here are some studies that we can offer, and are based on the following concepts:

  • Chronological Order of Reading – Reading from top to bottom
  • Prime Real Estate for Critical Information – the Miss Universe Title is the most important information so it gets the most space
  • Arrows for Emphasis – Label-to-Information should be obvious
  • Differing/Contrasting Backgrounds – The background for each label-information is different
Pointwest Study 1 - Contrast-Monochrome Information Design

Study 1: High Contrast – Monochrome
Pointwest Study 2 - Light Monochrome Information Design

Study 2: Light Monochrome
Pointwest Study 3 - Branded Information Design

Study 3 – Branded Design

Miss Philippines was eventually declared the official Miss Universe 2015 onstage, and on the Miss Universe official Social Media accounts and website. As one of the leading Filipino-Owned IT-BPM companies in the Philippines, it is with great pride and joy that we congratulate Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach: Congratulations!

Video background courtesy by FOX YouTube Channel