How A Brave 28-Year-Old Fought For Her Right To Win Panasonic's Online Beauty Search
Panasonic's failure to shortlist the competition's highest-voted contestant has sparked a viral outrage on social media, revealing the brand's ignorance in perpetuating perceptions of beauty in the process.
Panasonic Apologises And Calls Off Beauty Search, But Ashley Says "This Isn't Over Yet"
As Of 23 November, Panasonic Malaysia Has Called Off The 'I Love Myself Beauty Search 2014' In Light Of The Mass Criticism Surrounding The Beauty Contest After The Brand Neglected To Include Social Media Favourite Ashley Grieg In Its Shortlist Of Participants
Ignoring the girl at the centre of the furor, Ashley Greig, Panasonic Malaysia issued a public apology to contestants of the beauty contest in general for choosing to bring the entire event to a halt, likely disappointing the 216 contestants who have been shortlisted.campaignasia.com
We Spoke To Ashley Greig To Find Out If Panasonic Took Any Steps To Contact Or Apologise To Her Personally For The Whole Incident
We were surprised to find out that the brand initially refused to issue a public apology, possibly relenting after realising that they will "be in bigger trouble with the media and the public" if they do not do so.
In Response To Panasonic's Post, Ashley Noted That She Would've Preferred A Public Apology That Addressed Her Personally, But She Has Decided To Let The Matter Go As She Has Bigger Plans In Place
While Panasonic Sought To End The Crisis On Their Part, Ashley Has Said That "This Is Not The End Yet", For She And A Few Friends Will Be Launching A "Worldwide Campaign About Raising Awareness Of Equality In Beauty"
Previously: Panasonic's Latest Online Campaign Is Definitely Getting A Lot Of Attention, But Not Exactly The Good Kind. The Company's Failure To Include A Contestant With The Highest Votes In Its Online Beauty Contest Has Provoked Public Backlash From Social Media Users.
In October, The Local Electronics Brand Announced The 'I Love Myself Beauty Search 2014' As Part Of Its Marketing Campaign To Promote Panasonic's New Beauty-Electronics Range
The Rules: Contestants Are Required To Post A Photo Of Themselves On Facebook Or Instagram, From Which 216 Women Will Be Shortlisted For A Free Makeover Based On Online Votes. 20 Finalists Will Then Be Selected Based On Online Votes (30%) And The Judges' Decision (70%).
Participants had to submit a photo via Facebook or Instagram and garner votes from the public. They will then be shortlisted and for a free makeover session and then ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures will be uploaded online for another round of voting. Top 20 finalists will be selected to attend the finale where they will stand a chance to win a fully-paid tour for two to Japan and gifts up to RM55,000.vulcanpost.com
The contest's terms and conditions only asked for contestants to be aged 20 and above. No other physical requirements were stipulated.campaignlive.com
The Contest Caught The Attention Of Ashley Greig, A Lecturer Of English From Sunway University, Who Decided To Give The Beauty Search A Try. By The Time Voting Ended On 23 October, Her Entry Had Garnered More Than 1,500 Likes, Making Her The Contestant With The Highest Amount Of Votes In The First Round Of The Competition.
She had entered the competition knowing that she would be probably up against girls who fulfil the general predictable standards of beauty: tall, slim, fair, and model-like. But she entered the competition anyway with one sole goal: to change the perception of beauty in the society.vulcanpost.com
Ashley said, “The problem with society, we like to categorise things. It’s easier for people to manage one category at a time, having put everyone into one is too much variety. But that is why I joined this competition, I thought it would be the first in the country that would not be focused on size, but more on confidence and loving yourself. Those are two important aspects that they were looking for in the winner.”vulcanpost.com
The Not-So-Pleasant Surprise: You'd Think Ashley Would Be A Shoo-In For The Next Round, Right? Wrong. When The Shortlist Of 216 Was Announced - Surprise, Surprise - Ashley's Name Was Not Included In The List!
Confused, Ashley Contacted Panasonic To Ask Why She Wasn't Included In The Shortlist And If They Were Looking For Contestants With Specific Physical Attributes, To Which The Brand Asserted That Candidates Were Selected Based On The 30:70 System And That The Judges' Decisions Were Final
What Didn't Add Up: Panasonic's Explanation Would Have Been Plausible, If Not For The Terminology Used In The Contest's Mechanics. A Graphic Shared On Its Facebook Page Implied That The 30:70 System Will Only Come Into Play In "Next Round Qualifications", Rather Than The Shortlist Round.
The picture shared by Panasonic states that the ‘next round qualification will be based on public vote and judges’ decision’. ‘Next round’ sounds like it’s referring to selecting the finalists from the 216 shortlisted participants.vulcanpost.com
Similarly, in the Terms and Conditions stipulated by Panasonic Beauty Malaysia states that "Finalists will be chosen by the Organiser based on the judges’ evaluation and online votes. The judging system is as follows: 70% for judges’ evaluation, 30% for online votes. The Organiser’s decision shall be final and no further correspondence or appeal will be entertained."146.100
In Her Shock And Disappointment, Ashley Took To Facebook To Express Her Feelings And To Lament The Fact That She Wasn't Able To "Beat The System" To Change Society's Perception Of Beauty. She Also Thanked Her Supporters Who Have Had Her Back "From Day One", Even Addressing The "Haters" Who Had Laughed At Her "For Even Bothering To Try".
A Few Days Later, Ashley Wrote Another Post Chronicling Her Journey From Before She Decided To Join The Contest Up Until The Disappointing Conclusion, Stating That She Felt Upset Not Because She Did Not Win, But That She Was "Denied The Chance To Even Try To Change The Perception Of Beauty In A Society Where Only Physical Features Were Deemed Important"
The Social Media Outroar: Ashley's Supporters Rallied And Came Out In Full Force To Demand An Explanation From Panasonic Malaysia As Well As To Criticise Them For Their Unfair Judging Decisions, Discrepancies In Contest Rules And Using Online Voting To Get "Free Publicity"
According to Greig, friends and even people she'd never met stormed Panasonic's Facebook site, expressing their anger at the perceived unfairness, the breaking of its own contest rules, and the use of online voting for "cheap publicity".campaignlive.com
Some Have Also Pointed Out Panasonic's Failure To Emulate Their "I Love Myself" Tagline, Criticising The Brand For Stereotyping The Perception Of Beauty And For Judging Women Based On Their Looks, Hence The Discrimination Against Women Who Do Not Fit In Typical Notions Of Beauty
So, What Does Panasonic Malaysia Have To Say About The Ensuing Outrage? Throughout The Fiasco, Panasonic Has Stood By Their Decision, Stating That Decisions Made Were Final And Were Always Meant To Adhere To The Pre-Defined 30% Online Votes And 70% Judges' Decision Criteria.
The brand has done little to quench the flames, choosing to reiterate that the decision was made on a 30 percent online vote and 70 percent judge's choice, without acknowledging the discrepency between the terms "finalists" and "shortlist" in its terms and conditions. The brand has also continued to insist on the search for "inner radiance" without acknowledging that outer beauty appears to count for more.campaignlive.com
In A Facebook Post, The Brand Merely Expressed Their Regret On The "Confusion Regarding The Selection Process" And Stated That The Contest Will Be Put On Hold While They "Look Into And Improve" The Contest's Selection Mechanics
Panasonic responded to a query if they have any plans to apologise for the misunderstanding with the following response:
"We regret that there has been some confusion and would like to highlight that we have responded to and addressed comments regarding the selection process, during the course of the I Love Myself Beauty Search 2014."