As citizens across the United States anxiously awaited the results of the election last night, NBC once again hosted Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center, a free interactive, election-focused exhibit and promotion for the public that also served as the hub of election-night coverage from NBC News, Telemundo, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC 4 New York.
Originally scheduled to open Tuesday, October 30, the outdoor setup saw its kickoff delayed until Friday, November 2, due to Hurricane Sandy. This is the second time NBC has turned its Rockefeller Center headquarters into Democracy Plaza—the last time was in 2004; in 2008, the broadcasting company created a scaled-down version called Election Plaza.
Thousands gathered to watch live coverage of results on large screens in the Midtown site, which was doused in red, white, and blue hues. Underneath the surface of the iconic ice rink was the outline of a U.S. map that had individual states filling in red or blue as NBC News officially called them for Obama or Romney. The crowds also watched and cheered as red and blue banners representing the number of electoral votes gained by each party rose up the front of the General Electric building toward the key 270 mark. Two elevated temporary studios overlooked the rink, one for NBC News and one for MSNBC. Just off to the side of the rink was another temporary studio where Today national correspondent Tamron Hall was based.
In addition to serving as a news hub for the network, Democracy Plaza was designed as a consumer event with prominent brand integration by sponsor Windows 8. Visitors could test the new Surface tablet at stands placed throughout the area and interact with Windows products at several exhibits, including a video booth outfitted with a news desk and teleprompter where people could record and share a mock NBC News report produced on a Windows PC. Caricature artists using tablets loaded with the new Fresh Paint app for Windows 8 also provided visitors with drawings of themselves alongside the presidential candidates. Downstairs inside the concourse were replicas of the Oval Office and the White House press briefing room where guests could have their photos taken and then share them online via Windows tablets.
NBC worked with Jack Morton Worldwide to create Democracy Plaza and bring the on-air broadcast experience to the public. The experience agency handled everything that “you could see, touch, or interact with,” according to Cristina Calzadilla, the vice president and director of public relations and communications at Jack Morton, including the map projections, broadcast sets, and interactive exhibits.