Preserving the most distinctive fan culture in the NFL.
RAIDERS // ACTIVATION + COMMS PLAN
CREATING A SACRED SPACE FOR RAIDERS FANS IN OAKLAND.
Fans of the Oakland Raiders feel spurned by their team's decision to leave the Bay Area for Las Vegas. They have built the most notorious fandom in the NFL, defined by its working-class camaraderie, raucous game-day antics, and place in West Coast hip-hop. With their distinctive fandom in peril, we sought to protect it. We created a sacred space where OG fans can carry on their traditions—and preserve Oakland's status as the (Un)Holy Land of Raiderdom.
What I Did: Messaged Oakland fans about losing their team. Snooped on Raiders Facebook groups. Explored Raiderdom and its legacy in West Coast hip-hop culture. Discovered you don't need an art director to make decent mockups.
BACKGROUND: THE RAIDERS HAVE PULLED A JUDAS ON THEIR FANS.
The Raiders have called Oakland, CA, across the Bay from San Francisco, home for 45 years. Their fans, the working and middle-class residents of Oakland, are often called the most notorious in sports. The most boisterous of them don black-and-white face paint and fill the seats near the opposing team's goalpost, an area known as the Black Hole. Despite their years of loyalty, the Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020.
PROBLEM: OAKLAND FANS FEEL THE NFL IS TRYING TO GENTRIFY THEIR TEAM.
Moving to Las Vegas may help the team. After years of repeated attempts to renovate the Oakland Coliseum, they will have a gleaming new stadium just off the Strip. Moving to Las Vegas, the City of Sin, also allows them to maintain their reputation as the bad boys of football. Still, Rob Rivera, the founder of The Black Hole fan group, told us he feels the NFL is leaving them behind to clean up the team's image:
"They [The Raiders] are going to their glass castle with their white families of four and leaving their working-class, more diverse fans behind."
TARGET: BLACK HOLE + RAIDER NATION
To keep Oakland fans loyal, we primarily targeted the superfans who filled the Black Hole. Their noms de guerre include Violator, Dr. Death, and Gorilla Rilla. Our secondary target is members of Raider Nation, in Oakland and beyond. They may not have closets full of gear, but they revere superfans like Violator as the leaders of Raiderdom. Consequently, they fall under the influence of our primary target.
REALIZATION: RAIDERDOM IS BIGGER THAN THE RAIDERS. IT'S A PASSIONATE SUBCULTURE THAT WAS BORN IN OAKLAND.
During our conversations, fans seldom mentioned football. They spoke of the values, traditions, and camaraderie they shared. Raiderdom is greater than its team. It is a subculture defined by the diversity and working-class character of Oakland. Icons of West Coast hip-hop, such as Ice Cube, are ardent fans. Raiderdom has an opportunity to spread, but preserving it means maintaining its capital.
OAKLAND IS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, THE (UN)HOLY LAND OF RAIDERDOM.
INTRODUCING: LOT 107
Oakland fans need a sacred space to carry on their traditions. LOT 107, a nod to a section of the Black Hole, gives them an outdoor space to tailgate and watch their team live on the big screen. Think of it as a drive-in theater for Raiders fanatics. By keeping OG fans active within the city, Oakland would maintain its status as the (Un)Holy Land of Raiderdom. What happens in Vegas started in Oakland.
Comms Barrier #1:
The definition of Raiderdom is in flux, and OG fans worry Oakland will no longer have a place in it.
Comms Task #1:
Tell Oakland residents their city will always be central to Raiderdom.
Tactic #1: OOH Hymns
Comms Barrier #2:
Oakland fans show up, but they no longer have a place to practice their traditions.
Comms Task #2:
Show Oakland fans having a space to meet will preserve their traditions.
Tactic #2: The Christening
Comms Barrier #3:
The NFL doesn't value Oakland fans' loyalty. They don't understand their role in the new Raiderdom.
Comms Task #3:
Make Oakland die-hards feel like the ultimate authorities on Raiderdom.
Tactic #3: Spread the Gospel
TACTIC #1: OUT-OF-HOME HYMNS
The official hymn of Raider Nation is "Autumn Wind," a poem that describes the blustering winds of fall, football season. We'd print out excerpts from the poem and place them across town in the places Raiders fans are known to hang out: downtown, at gyms, and inside their favorite bars. Printed alongside the lyrics would be QR codes with coordinates to LOT 107 and details on the launch.
TACTIC #2: THE CHRISTENING
Raider Nation counts a few celebrity fans, Ice Cube and Guy Fieri among them. On the first game of the season, we'd throw a pregame concert by Ice Cube, and Guy Fieri would host a celebrity food truck. A shrine of Al Davis, the general manager of the Oakland Raiders for nearly 40 years, would be unveiled on the memorial site.
TACTIC #3: SPREAD THE GOSPEL
If Raiderdom is something of a religion, then it needs its apostles. We would mobilize the Black Hole by sending the most famous superfans to Las Vegas for the first game of the season, via a motorcade of Mad Max-inspired trucks. Once in the new stadium, they could teach new fans the customs of Raider Nation.
MY PART →