Cannes Lions

Washington Football Team

CODE AND THEORY, New York / WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM / 2021

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Overview

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Overview

Background

The U.S. has a deeply troubling history of racism that has permeated nearly every facet American life–and while marginalized groups have been fighting to be heard for decades, centuries, racial injustice finally became a national conversation in 2020. It was an utterly transformative year.

This type of change was urgent for Washington D.C.’s football team–the Redskins–whose racist name had been a divisive subject of ire and scrutiny for years. Add to it a backdrop of increasingly negative press, the moment demanded they finally and definitively take a new direction. A nearly 100-year old institution and American icon; and, like any football team in this country, represents much more than just a brand—it's an identity that people live and breathe.

Having landed on a new interim name—Washington Football Team—the club tasked us with introducing it to the world and launching the most inclusive sports brand the NFL had ever seen.

Idea

Our rebrand was driven by the central credo of progress.The logotype points forward. The uniforms distinguish every player and rise them up from the past. The concept of a team without a symbol or mascot breaks from the norm and boldly pivots beyond tradition. In visual executions, we showcased not player’s stats but player’s voices; they became iconic individuals, not owned athletes. We wanted to bring something completely new to not just football—but to the wider world of sports.

Strategy

Our strategy was radical inclusivity, at every turn, at every touchpoint, from our initial process to our final outputs. We began by assembling our own team with intention, coalescing a diversity of expertise, experience, identities and football fluency to ensure we were centering marginalized voices in our work.

Again, with intention, we extended this inclusivity to our creative and experiential activations. Our campaign infused meaning into the Washington Football Team name—proving that mascots are not what matter; what matters is TEAM. The microsite we created was an open, democratic space that brought every fan together and into the process—from diehards to employees—and was supported with content that drove home the idea of inclusivity.

Execution

Leveraging the team’s classic burgundy and gold color scheme, we crafted a holistic design system along with an iconic new wordmark that had a sense of forward momentum. We extended it to the team’s countless touchpoints — from uniforms and merchandise, to their 82,000 seat stadium.

We then developed a platform called NO NAME BUT TEAM, a unifying rallying cry that activated across social, web, OOH, and digital video, and in a groundbreaking move, featured every player from Washington’s roster. In a first for the sport, we placed each player’s number across their helmet, emphasizing that we are united but our individual perspectives matter.

Core to Washington Football Team is their dedicated and enthusiastic fanbase, so within weeks, we created WashingtonJourney.com, a hub where the fans and the franchise could engage and learn. The platform featured a timeline detailing the renaming process, polls, submissions, merchandise, and exclusive videos.

Outcome

–285,000 new users to date on our microsite washingtonjourney.com.

–39,000+ fan submissions on the submit an idea page of the microsite to submit an idea for a team name

–Named #1 best social media presence among all NFL teams