NBC sprinkles augmented reality Santa, football effects in Macy’s parade coverage

NBC, which holds the official broadcast rights to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, added some augmented reality enhancements to this year’s coverage Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021.

This included an augmented reality Santa “flying over” the 34th Street location that includes NBC’s broadcast booth and setting for performances. 

Co-host Savannah Guthrie feigned pressing her earpiece to “report” that she just got word that Santa was on his way as a sleigh bell audio looped in the background.

Hoda Kotb, who was co-hosting, noted there’s “magic in the air,” a bit of an ironic statement given that the image of Santa quite literally was inserted into the “air” above the street outside of Macy’s flagship store.

Meanwhile, later in a sponsored segment, a large goalpost was wheeled into place in front of the store entrance and someone dressed as a turkey took a kick at a football.

Allstate, who was sponsoring the segment as part of an overall deal with NBC Sports, was pledging to donate to charity if “Gobbler” made the kick.

The camera cut to a wide view of the square as Gobbler kicked what appeared to be the actual ball, which sailed through the goal post.

The ball, meanwhile, was accented with a bright blue and white comet-like “tail,” presumably to make it a bit easier to see. 


As the ball flew through, the yellow posts turned to a blue and white candy cane pattern while large puffs of blue began spewing from the top.

After the kick, augmented reality confetti began “falling” around the scene and a large “video board” “slide down” the side of the Macy’s building with the word “Yesss!!!” in blue and white.

It appears this was the first time NBC used augmented reality in this way during the parade. Sequin AR worked with NBC on the project. 

The event was not held in its traditional fashion in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.