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The campaign will debut with a 15-second commercial during NBC’s live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony Friday morning, with other versions of the spot airing across NBC’s platforms in the days and weeks that follow.
The full 60-second spot (the 15- and 30-second versions will also appear depending on the platform and program) opens with video of Holt walking toward a story, cameras in tow, followed by quick cuts of text and video.
“When emotions are high” flashes onscreen, before footage of the U.S. Capital riot plays; “when fears overwhelm facts” appears onscreen, before video of someone getting vaccinated; “when things are at a tipping point” flashes, before footage of George Floyd’s memorial service.
That is followed by the words “when we need dialogue over drama,” as footage of Holt reporting in the field for the newscast plays, and the words “we have an anchor,” which leads into the campaign’s tagline. “We have an anchor that calms … An anchor that steadies … An anchor when we need one most … An anchor for America … The anchor for America.”
Using the Olympics as a promotional vehicle for Nightly News and Holt underscores the investment NBC continues to make in its signature evening newscast. Nightly News has been playing catch-up to ABC’s World News Tonight With David Muir in both total viewers and the target adults 25-54 demographic for more than a year, according to data from Nielsen. That being said, the program ended 2020 with its best total viewer numbers in four years, driven by the heavy news cycle, and for the past six weeks has been the third-most-watched program on TV, excluding syndication and sports.
Of course, with viewers increasingly getting their news online and fewer Americans watching TV, Holt and the other evening news anchors have also embraced the web in their efforts to deliver the news to viewers, and those efforts are not rated by the media measurement firm.
But the new campaign, from the agency Arts & Letters (which also produced NBC News’ “This Is Who We Are” campaign), positions Holt as both a news anchor and a grounding force, and with its Olympics debut, NBC is hoping that the metaphor will resonate with the significant audiences expected to tune in.
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