Once again this year, as in 2016, Viget, a small but potent digital technology innovator company based downtown in the City of Falls Church will be in the middle of orchestrating a clever interactive stunt on national TV during the Kentucky Derby involving millions of viewers.
It involves the frisky, tweet-powered race horse brooch that NBC-TV color commentator Johnny Weir will be wearing on his lapel during the broadcast this Saturday afternoon.
Viewers can make the horse on the brooch gallop simply by posting on Twitter using the hashtag, #WatchMeNeighNeigh, or by mentioning Weir’s Twitter handles @JohnnyGWeir or @JohnnysHorse in their tweets.
The more tweets, the faster the little sequined horse will gallop for all the world to see on national TV.
“We’ve added some additional bling to the horse this time,” Brian Williams, a City resident, Planning Commissioner and the company’s CEO who works out of its headquarters a few floors above the Ireland’s Four Provinces restaurant at Broad and Washington. “Compared to when we were first involved with this in 2016, there will also be more pre-promotion this time and expect a larger audience to participate.” More than 300 decorative jewels have also been added to the brooch this year.
It will begin to be showcased on the NBC Sports social media sites and Weir’s own accounts on Saturday morning ahead of the coverage of the big Churchill Downs race late in the afternoon. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and the main event race begins at 6:46 p.m.
Last time, in 2016, according to Viget, more than 4,000 tweets (155 a minute during peak times) made the brooch glow and move.
According to an NBC Sports Group spokesman as reported in AdWeek magazine, Viget “really brings a great expertise in robotics and some of the software side. Once we came up with this outlandish idea, it’s really been a great collaborative effort.”
Weir’s the perfect announcer to showcase this, NBC’s Dan Palla said. “He is so wonderfully original and a standout piece of our coverage.” Weir was widely praised for his coverage of the Winter Olympics earlier this year, among other things showcasing his original fashion and accessories.
Williams said this year’s brooch was designed and manufactured at Viget’s Boulder, Colorado, offices, using 3D-printing devices. He said that in addition to the added “bling,” the brooch is boosted by an improved power source that will be pinned to Weir’s lapel from behind the brooch.
The Falls Church connection extends to Weir, himself, too. Beginning in October 2012, for over a year, the three-time U.S. figure skating champion and two time Olympian competitor wrote an exclusive weekly column for the Falls Church News-Press.