Oakland Ribs S.F. Again, This Time on Television

The battle between Oakland and San Francisco wasn’t confined to the gridiron during a preseason Raiders/49ers game earlier this month.

The matchup provided Oakland with a good venue to roll out self-promo TV ads that jab at its revered neighbor to the west. The spots, tagged “The other city by the bay,” follow print and outdoor work that broke earlier this summer to massive media attention.

“San Francisco is so secure and ingrained as a good place to live and work that you can take a few potshots at it and it’s OK,” said Stephen Creet, creative director at Young & Rubicam, San Francisco, the agency behind the campaign.

Long considered a working-class stepsister to San Francisco, with higher crime and unemployment rates, Oakland displays a newfound confidence in the four TV spots. One shows a listing in the window of a real-estate office. As the camera zooms in on a modest home priced at $400,000, a voiceover says, “Some people won’t be happy with Oakland until it’s exactly like San Francisco.” “Fine,” the voice continues. A photo of a doghouse is then slapped over the listing to illustrate how far a dollar goes in San Francisco.

Creet said Oakland officials were hesitant when Y&R floated the idea of a rivalry campaign more than a year ago. But the campaign broke in March, and the newspaper ads were so well-received that the effort was extended to taxi-top and transit shelter ads, which ran from May to July. With the media buzzing, the client OKed the TV spots, which are slated to run through the fall.

“It’s a campaign we would not have been able to afford on our own,” said Samee Roberts, marketing manager for the city of Oakland. “[The media exposure is] worth millions.”

Roberts said the city exhausted its modest $400,000 budget on the campaign, and that some extra space was donated.