Miss World announced a brand new format for this year’s pageant.  On top of selecting the fast-track winners in five different events and 15 from the judges’ interview, they added a new layer by adding the Head-to-Head challenge, where all the contestants are divided into groups of six were they showcase their introduction videos (or excerpts of it if it runs over two minutes), asked a question about their background plus a final question and the public get to vote via social media by liking their Mobstar, Facebook or voting for them on the Miss World website.  There are 18 groups of six and two groups of five and the winner of each group will have a quarterfinal slot.

The Head-to-Head challenge concept is actually not really totally new.  For me it’s a retooled version of the televised “Vote For Me / You Decide” TV specials that were conducted for Miss World from 2001 to 2006, but instead of organizing the ladies by six regions/continents, we have 20 mini-TV specials and instead of securing TV networks around the world to broadcast them, it is all available on the web via YouTube, Facebook or Mobstar.  The roots of how this new challenge relates to the old specials are actually a bit obvious, as you notice that there would be “breaks” in between segments, and some behind-the-scenes interlude sequences–this year featuring new “everyman” correspondent Barney Walsh.   We have to hand it to this organization to embrace public/fan inputs in the selection of the finalists.

However, as much as we enjoy Miss World’s penchant for introducing novel concepts like the fast-track challenges and head-to-head challenges, and it is savvy that they let the contestants serve as their publicity arm and pageant coverage by those official social media accounts that were set up for them, there are still basic things that I feel is still the Miss World Organization’s responsibility to meet and issues with the execution of the events, such as:

  1. If they want to measure “increase in Facebook likes” from the Head-to-Head challenges, it puts established, already popular established accounts at a major disadvantage, like Miss World – Philippines, Miss World – India, and Miss World – Mexico, as these already have thousands of followers to begin with.  What does Miss World expect the fans to do with this format, have the fans “unlike” these accounts prior the head-to-head challenges first then “like” them again once the videos featuring these innately popular accounts are uploaded?  I think if they choose to implement this system, instead of recycling existing Miss World – [country] accounts, they should create year-specific Facebook accounts instead (like Miss World 2017 – Philippines, Miss World 2017 – Australia, etc.).
  2. The way the Head-to-Head challenge videos are uploaded seems unwieldy and with the finals less than two days to go as of this writing, they have yet to upload the last four videos–ideally all those videos should have been edited and uploaded by now and perhaps by tomorrow we’ll know all the 20 winners of this challenge.  There is also the fact that there were occasional editing issues that forced them to pull out some of the videos (like Group 9 and Group 16) initially before reposting them.
  3. Events like Top Model provides the opportunity to photograph each contestant individually as they paraded on the catwalk.  However photographs, as shown on the official Miss World Facebook page, are woefully incomplete.  For instance, no solo photos of Miss Croatia (Tea Mlinaric) strutting her stuff on the catwalk–only group pics after the announcement she placed third.  Plus there is the issue of over-exposed lighting and an ungainly blue-ish tint on those photos–don’t the Miss World in-house team have the proper equipment to set filters to offset those glaring spotlights? They used to be more comprehensive with this, even as recently as 2011 and 2012–so what the hell is happening here?

Then there is the integrity question, which Filipino netizens raised after seeing Indonesia’s Liliana Tanoesoedibjo and Puerto RIco’s Wilnelia Merced in last year’s final judging panel–one is the national director for her country and the other is related to her country’s national director.  What did the Miss World Organization decide to do to address this?  By inviting our national director, Arnold Vegafria to this year’s judging panel, in effect making him and our country complicit in the process.  I don’t really welcome this development and it can be argued that he’s just one vote out of many and he can easily be overruled, and moreover he doesn’t seem to have the same sway over the other judges the way Liliana and Wilnelia have, but still it does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Despite these issues that make me question the professionalism and integrity of this enterprise, I still am excited to follow this long hallowed pageant institution.  As is customary I will be evaluating the prospects of the 118 contestants in this year’s pageant of their prospects for snagging the blue crown.  So fasten your seatbelts and join me on my Miss World homestretch review.