NBC Connects Verizon, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Madison Ave. Boost

Felix the Cat Float
Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

Employees at Macy’s work furiously to make the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade a New York City event. This year, some viewers of the NBC extravaganza may see Verizon as having a helping hand in delivering the experience.

Verizon will live-stream 360-degree views of the parade for a second year, using six different cameras equipped with technology allowing visitors to its YouTube page to scan so much of the scenes they might even catch a glimpse of the announcers’ cue cards, said Mark Marshall, NBCUniversal’s executive vice president of entertainment advertising sales, in an interview. One camera will even be mounted on board the parade’s lead float. Verizon will also sponsor a new first for the event: a so-called “picture-in-picture” screen that will allow TV viewers to keep watching the parade even as NBC pauses for a commercial break.

The alliance shows NBC working to make its annual Thanksgiving Day parade broadcast a bigger draw for Madison Avenue, said Marshall. “This is the official kickoff to the holiday season for consumers and marketers,” he said. “We have realized that the parade is a tradition” that attracts a big audience that watches in bigger family units, “but I don’t think a lot of people have realized how big it was.” As NBC has promoted the event, which leads into the National Dog Show and then an NFL football broadcast, it has won 13 new parade advertisers, he said.

Verizon hopes families watching the NBC parade telecast “will understand the value we can bring” to the experience just hours before the biggest shopping season of the year kicks off, said John Nitti, Verizon’s chief media officer. “We are providing something, enabling something that people often can’t get.” While hundreds of people may get out to New York City to see the parade live, millions of others cannot, he said. Thanks to the Verizon effort,”no matter where you are, you have the ability to see that same view.”

Viewers of the  linear parade broadcast will hear mentions of the live-stream.

Verizon will be woven throughout the NBC broadcast. Olivia Culpo, an actress and activist, will host he Verizon live stream along with Keith Habersberger, a BuzzFeed host and improv comedian. They will be anchored at a midtown Manhattan stage that will carry branding from Verizon and the event and house a section for participants in a Verizon rewards-points program. Viewers of the live-stream on Verizon’s YouTube page will also be able to look at fun facts about the parade and see social posts, some of which will be connected to redeemable Verizon offers.

Olivia Culpo will return as live-stream host, and will be joined by BuzzFeed’s Keith Habersberger, as hosts of the live stream from a co-branded stage in Midtown Manhattan that will house an audience section for Verizon Up ticket holders. The Verizon Up loyalty program rewards customers by offering special access to brands and experiences they know and love – like once in a lifetime VIP access to the parade. The live stream will be synced with the start of the parade on November 23 at 9 a.m. eastern on NBC. During NBC’s broadcast, Verizon will run a 60-second segment thanking first responders.