Ash Myburgh
Art Director + Designer


Here are some thoughts, some announcements and a snapshot of what goes through my head.

How Bad Design ruined Miss Universe


So ICYMI or have been living under a rock, the biggest fail of 2015 was arguably Steve Harvey's monumental mixup at the Miss Universe finale. In the highly anticipated moment of the final crowning, he wrongly announced Miss Columbia as the winner of the pageant, only to realise soon after that it was Miss Philippines who should have been crowned Miss Universe 2015.  The effects of this mistake, you could say, rocked the universe...or at the the Twittosphere as it became the top trend of the week, and several to follow.

While many would agree that Harvey is deserving of the reining title of "Dunce of the Year" (rivalled only by Donald Trump), Branding Specialist Eric Thomas suggests that Harvey is not completely to blame, and that it in fact could have all been a result of poor design.

Take a look at the finale card for yourself:


So, the main glaringly obvious error would be the mismatched sizing and alignment which completely disrupts the hierarchy. With the winner hiding under some massive, right justified header into the corner, which not only looks like a mistake but can be easily missed upon first glance, let alone in the heat of the moment under spotlight and on live television, the announcement mistake can be easily explained.

As Thomas says in his Linkdin post on the matter:

"Welcome to the silliest and most sloppily arranged piece of design to hit a multi-million dollar, overproduced, international beauty pageant to date. This is like showing up in flip-flops to the Oscars. And with months in the making, and thousands of hours worth of prep time, how did this part get overlooked?

Let's break it down.

There isn't any logical order to this. Sizing, placement, and organizing is all over the place. Why is “Miss Universe” all the way to the right, but “Philippines” is centered below it? The actual winner, compositionally speaking, was essentially just cast off to the side. It looks like a footnote. And even though this document was created so that the names could be added later, they could have at least made the letters bigger. Microsoft Word can certainly adjust font sizes."

He hit the nail on the head there...but of course, it's easy to criticise without offering an alternative. Except that is exactly what Thomas did...


"I took 20 minutes of my time to try and get this right. First, I’ve updated the brand to match. Just because this is simple and utilitarian doesn’t mean it can’t match the rest of the show. After that, I tackled the hierarchy. Now our "2015 Miss Universe” is now way more obvious. I’ve even managed to leave places to add the winner labels. Also, everything is easier to read and follow. Our elimination card is legible, clean, and focused. By using size and color, we’ve made this document a lot more easy to understand."

So before we all sharpen our pitchforks (or in this generation, our twitter-tongues) and go after poor Steve,  perhaps we should adjust our target and aim it at the "designer" who is responsible for creating this "epic failure trap" of design!

Source: How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey's "Universe" by Eric Thomas

Ash Myburgh