Previous to the 2012 Miss America Pageant, the 53 contestants decided to try a new method to appeal to fans: creating their own video spotlights on YouTube which were meant to showcase their uniqueness and personality. In the wake of serious Miss America blunders such as the 2009 Miss California gay marriage response and the 2007 Miss South Carolina response to world maps, the girls opted for more ‘out there’ techniques: everything from Miss Idaho wearing a potato sack and a Marilyn Monroe wig, to Miss Nevada ‘rapping’ about wanting to win.
While some of the videos offered an inspiring look at some of the contestants with wit and charm, others such as Miss Colorado’s “I’m that girl” video and Miss Nebraska’s painfully awkward video missed the mark. Taking a completely different approach, Miss Oregon appealed to America’s online community by creating her own Old Spice parody (complete with comedic timing and quick-change accessories). Embracing new media appeared to be working in the pageants favor, as each of the new videos has received at least 3,000 views (the most popular video, Miss Oregon, had a little over 15,000 views and climbing previous to the air date). With each new contestant equipped with a twitter account, it seemed that this would have a powerful affect on the 2012 Miss America Pageant.
However, the YouTube didn’t seem to appeal to the judges, failing to be included in the Semi-finals. The Preliminary winners on night one came from Miss Utah and Miss Wisconsin: girls that even post-pageant have barely half the YouTube success of Miss Oregon (Miss Wisconsin had only 46, 125 views while Miss Utah had an even more abysmal 13,279 views). Upon further inspection, the ‘top five’ girls nominated in the pageant revealed even more confusing results: 1st place runner up Miss Oklahoma had only 33,525 views, 2nd place runner-up Miss New York had an even weaker 23, 707 views, 3rd place runner-up Miss Arizona trailed even further behind with 19, 865 views, while surprisingly, 4th place runner-up Miss California managed 20, 142 views.
So what happened exactly? Looking at the Google Analytics for each video revealed that the YouTube community and the Miss America judges might have had a major disconnect. According to the current Miss America judging system, there is not voting outlet during competition to help determine the winner. This year, the online video offerings allowed contestants to submit a video to be sent to Planet Hollywood, but not to be considered for potential winnings.
When looking at the Twitter usage of both contestants it does appear that Miss Oregon may have severely dropped the ball, having only tweeted 20 times, and boasting only 127 followers. One reason this may have been an issue is that while Caroline McGowan chose to use the Twitter handle @MissOregon2012, Laura Kaeppeler used her own name for her handle (earning her over 11,000 followers to read her staggering 2,945 tweets).
Though both girls made Dean’s List and had a varied range of talents, it was the witty performance on YouTube that caused Miss Oregon’s clip to be posted on Reddit, instead of Miss Wisconsin’s. A closer look at the exact analytics provided by Google reveals that while both videos were posted to PollDaddy.com and their own personal websites, Miss Wisconsin’s views came predominately from referrals, whereas Miss Oregon had more direct views from mobile devices and media websites. With the ‘like’ function disabled, the videos did reveal a stronger interest based on ‘favorites’ (84 favorites for Miss Oregon, and 15 favorites for Miss Wisconsin) in the towel-clad Miss Oregon than the flip-board ‘typical’ video Miss Wisconsin presented.
Now granted, I am ignoring the fact that in the ‘Talent’ portion of the competition Miss Wisconsin blew the other contestants out of the water with her outstanding operatic performance (while Miss Oregon did not have a chance to show her vocal talents because she had already been eliminated) and that Miss Wisconsin successfully answered her politically-themed question from Good Morning America anchor, Lara Spencer. To recap, she answered that “Miss America needs to represent all” to the tricky question of “Should Miss America be free to declare her political affiliation” (ultimately Miss Wisconsin’s clever answer did not fully answer the question but elicited a successful reaction from the crowd).
So while Miss America may have crowned Laura Kaeppeler as their 2012 Miss America, perhaps the internet may have crowned its first Miss YouTube 2012.
Charlotte Kellogg is a Communications Media major graduating from Goucher College in May. Charlotte is currently interning at Jumpthru during her winter break. She is an active horse woman, and hopes to one day combine her love of horses and communications for a therapeutic riding center.