NBC Sports

Kentucky Derby Social Brooch

  • NBC Sports
  • 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.

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 2016’s Run for the Roses.

  • DesignA Brooch With Moves

    After collaborating with NBC Sports and Johnny, we landed on an idea for a horse-shaped brooch with animated legs that galloped. To design the gallop, we combined moving the legs with a slight head bob.

  • 3D ModelingQuick Iterations

    Using Fusion 360, we shaped the horse and worked out key motion paths for the legs, head, and tail. Each component of the model was designed so it could be altered later. This type of changeability is most easily accomplished using parametric modeling. Parametric modeling, paired with rapid prototyping technologies, facilitate quick design iterations.

  • PrototypingMany Iterations

    We developed 10 different design iterations before finalizing our model. This included two major motor changes to help reduce noise, and a number of linkage explorations.

    Justin Sinichko Building a Magical Brooch for the Kentucky Derby, NBC, and Johnny Weir
  • EngineeringPowering the Brooch

    We built an electronics module that clipped to Johnny’s waist for the brooch to handle both power management and networking. And because this was broadcast TV, we built backups to ensure that no matter what, we had viable solutions to nearly any issue ready to go.

  • Social Engagement#WatchMe NeighNeigh

    The brooch came to life when viewers tweeted with the hashtag #WatchMeNeighNeigh. The brooch was an integral part of NBC Sports’s social strategy for the Kentucky Derby and performed flawlessly. An estimated 16 million viewers had the opportunity to see and interact with the brooch. 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.

  • 4,000+

    #WatchMeNeighNeigh tweets sent to Johnny’s brooch throughout the broadcast.


Over 17.9 million viewers witnessed more than 4,000 #WatchMeNeighNeigh tweets power Johnny Weir’s brooch on-air during the 142nd Annual Kentucky Derby. The brooch glowed and galloped flawlessly, delightfully bringing fashion and tech and horses together for the four-hour network event.

How do you say
Viget, anyway?