Miss America Says Goodbye to Bikinis, Hires Y&R for Rebranding

'We are no longer a pageant,' the group claims

The contest is getting in touch with the times. Miss America

Miss America is repositioning its brand to align with sweeping cultural changes, calling into question the nature of its long history.

As such the brand has appointed Y&R as agency of record for a wide-reaching rebranding effort without a review, while announcing that it is eliminating the swimsuit portion of the competition. Miss America further claims it will no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance.

“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment,” Gretchen Carlson, chair of the brand’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”

This video short offers a hint as to the non-pageant’s new identity.

“Miss America is upending a 97-year-old brand as an empowering platform during a cultural tipping point,” added Y&R North America CCO Leslie Sims. “We’re excited to be working with the organization’s new leadership as champions of dimensional and fierce women. As advertisers, we should be creating content that women want to watch, share and produce. And content that raises up talented, badass women.”

The swimsuit portion of the competition will be eliminated as of this September, for the 2019 Miss America Competition, which airs on ABC on Sept. 9. According to a press release, the 51 women representing their states and the District of Columbia also “will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance.”

Miss America is repositioning the title-holder as an “empowerment and leadership mentor,” who will receive scholarships to further her education while advocating for social issues of her choosing and serving as an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and the city of Atlantic City, N.J.

“Miss America’s new mission statement is: ‘To prepare great women for the world, and to prepare the world for great women,'” Miss America president and CEO Regina Hopper said in a statement. “We want more young women to see this program as a platform upon which they can advance their desire to make a real difference and to provide them with the necessary skills and resources for them to succeed in any career path they choose.”

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.