JUDGE AND JURY: Critics silenced by phenomenal success of Miss World contest

When a beauty contest can command the type of viewing figures that Miss World did, it has to be doing something right, says Quentin Bell, founder of the Quentin Bell Organisation.

When a beauty contest can command the type of viewing figures that

Miss World did, it has to be doing something right, says Quentin Bell,

founder of the Quentin Bell Organisation.



What do PR consultants most often search for? A unique vehicle with

which to carry their clients’ messages, that’s what - and in many cases

this might involve creating a controversy to grab the headlines.



No worries in this regard with Miss World, of course. But also ponder on

this. How many superbrands do you know that, exiled from the UK, make a

stunning comeback ten years later on a tropical island-and command a 1.5

billion television audience? I can’t think of one-and it’s the PC police

of middle-England, and their counterparts worldwide, that are culpable

for its absence.



To ban the contestants from walking on stage in stilletoes and a

swimsuit is one thing, but to replace this with video footage of the

girls frolicking in the sea is even worse as you argue that it is far

more titillating.



Paradoxically, what the organisers have done in trying to make the

contest more PC has arguably made it less so.



The PC brigade confuse sex with sexism. For the 1.5 billion that tuned

in, sex is still pleasurable. And not just for the men. Judging from the

delight in the faces of the contestants themselves, females are not

adverse to parading on a platform and frolicking on the foreshore in

order to vie for a crown. So who are we to interfere?



It beats me, because apart from Miss Israel and the viewers there were

lots of winners. Channel 5 has gained from the sexism debate, which will

be good branding for them and a conduit to new advertisers. It’s been

brilliant for the Seychelles as a destination.



Acres of footage showed the beauty of the holiday island and Air

Seychelles promotion offered free trips, and there were copious

endorsements from the contestants themselves. All in all, how many

opportunities are there to get such key messages across to billions of

potential tourists?



It wasn’t bad news for the charismatic master of ceremonies Ronan

Keating, or the copious Sophie Dahl and the styleless Jacques Villeneuve

as judges either.



But Eric and Julia Morely are the true winners. They knew that the

controversy would help them with their campaign to repatriate the

money-spinner to its homeland next year. I hope they’ll succeed.

Confound the prudes!



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