NBC Sports

Kentucky Derby Social Brooch

At the Kentucky Derby, Johnny Weir gets attention. Lots of it. The NBC on-air personality has a style all his own, and his yearly derby fashion — especially his accessories — has become a talked-about event. But what if his ensemble gave others attention? Instead of just getting a response, it could capture it? These were the questions we posed to NBC Sports as we created the first-ever Twitter-powered brooch for this year's Run for the Roses. 

  • Challenge

    Create a digital accessory for Johnny Weir that could not only be the source of attention, but also capture and measure the social chatter it creates.

  • Solution

    A custom "Social Brooch" of sorts that features a galloping and illuminating horse that responds to Twitter activity surrounding the Kentucky Derby.

  • Results

    Over 17.9 million viewers witnessed more than 4,000 #WatchMeNeighNeigh tweets — including 155 per minute at key moments in the broadcast — through a tiny but powerful device that glowed and galloped during a power-packed four-hour network event.

How we did it.

  • It Starts with a Sketch

    We started sketching concepts almost immediately and shared our musings on a daily basis with the larger project team. This allowed us to start building sooner and 3-D print key prototypes.

  • Keep Iterating

    With a number of factors to consider, including sound, camera visibility, style and comfort, we had to plan to iterate on the design as well as the components. 

  • Collaborate with talented people

    We worked closely with the sharp folks on the NBC Sports social team, famous on-air talent and a trendsetting international designer to ensure the brooch was both literally and figuratively a stylish and fun concept. 

  • Planning for uncertainty

    We tested batteries, servos, lights — all the things — to ensure we’d be ready for the weekend’s festivities, even creating two stunt double brooches as backups. 

    jsinichko
    Building a Magical Brooch for the Kentucky Derby, NBC, and Johnny Weir
    Justin Sinichko, Hardware Developer
  • An Engaging Little Device

    With over 40 media outlets covering the piece including Verge and USA Today, the Brooch quickly became an attention worthy conversation piece on race day. Millions watched as the tiny horse galloped into Twitter’s (and America’s) heart.