Cannes Lions

Parade Reimagined

VERIZON, New York / VERIZON / 2020

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The 2019 holiday season marked a technological first: the arrival of 5G to the Big Apple, New York City. 5G is a new technology that consumers don’t quite understand yet. Creating effective ways to showcase the power of 5G technology is an inherent challenge as Verizon continues the transition from phone company to technology company. However, with a condensed season and increased competition in the battle to win 5G, we needed to find an ownable moment to make an impact.

Kick off the holiday season by demonstrating the superiority of Verizon’s 5G network and the transformative power it has. And give this once-in-a-generation technology disruption relevance and meaning.

Our goal was to create a culturally relevant idea that leveraged the national platform of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and in doing so, to win mindshare within the 5G conversation nationally, as well as in New York.


In 2019, 5G was all telecom companies could talk about. But few people understood what it was. So rather than just talking about the superiority of Verizon 5G, we set out to own this once-in-a-generation technological breakthrough by showcasing it in a relevant and meaningful way. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of America’s longest-standing and most beloved traditions. We enhanced this nostalgic experience and gave significance to 5G, creating a highly immersive, personalized, real-time activation that put people in the center of the action and allowed them to parade like they’d never paraded before. With a YouTube livestream and real-time content on Twitter, we gave audiences 360º views, celebrity holograms, a 5G portal, and augmented reality balloons, making watching this year’s parade at home even better than being there.


5G is a new technology that consumers don’t quite understand yet. Creating effective ways to showcase the power of 5G technology is an inherent challenge as Verizon continues the transition from phone company to technology company. When it comes to technology, seeing is believing. Every year, the Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off the holiday season. People wake up early and watch together, excited for new floats, new characters, and new Broadway performances. It was the perfect moment to show families what 5G could do, and to unlock the parade of their imagination. Because when you build a network powerful enough to change everything, imagine what it can do for you.


Implementation - Throughout a three-hour YouTube livestream of the parade, we demonstrated the power of 5G by adding to the parade experience with 360º camera views and augmented reality surprises. We encouraged people tuning in to participate in building real-time AR balloons. They could engage through polls on Twitter: we asked them to design colors, accessories, and flares of exclusive parade balloons. After voting, they were able to see their balloon creations in AR, in real time, during the livestream.

• Placement - YouTube livestream, real-time content on Twitter.

• Scale - The world’s most beloved parade on one of the world’s largest video platforms.

• Brand relevance - As Verizon continues the transition from phone company to technology company, it needs to create opportunities to showcase the power of 5G in meaningful ways.

• Touch points - Twitter, YouTube

• Materials, style elements, design choices - Twelve 360º cameras allowed viewers to see every inch of the parade. Using volumetric capture, we built celebrity holograms that appeared throughout the livestream. We also built five AR balloon renders with customizable elements tailored to our Twitter polls so they could be created in real time. We extended our brand assets by creating a 3D, balloonified version of the brand font.

• Methods and process - We worked with 5G Labs, creative technologists, and NBC production to build an interactive environment within YouTube livestream for the parade. A real-time social war room crowdsourced interactions and communicated with production, camera crews, and creative technologists to place large data (AR balloons and holograms) directly into the livestream in real time.

• Timeline - Morning of Thanksgiving 2019, three-hour YouTube livestream.

10 million viewers tuned in on YouTube. On social media, we had #1 share of voice, increasing social mentions by 35% YOY, with 85%


•Reach - 10 MM viewers tuned into the livestream.

•Engagement - No. 1 Share of Voice, increasing social mentions by 35% YOY.

•Impact - 85% positive sentiment; improved brand perception as leader in 5G tech (based on 76% of customers surveyed). Gained great momentum through this activation for a successful holiday sales season.

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