For 11 years, the Boeing Co. has sponsored a “Salute to the Military” celebration at every Chicago Bears home game. In 2012 Boeing called upon agency DFCBX to help share its appreciation of the military beyond Soldier Field stadium.
Partnering with The USO of Illinois, Boeing introduced its Home & Away initiative on the organization’s Facebook page, encouraging Bears fans—and anyone else—to post a photo or message of thanks to the troops. It also created seven short films featuring stories of Chicago veterans and crowd-sourced tributes, which were posted on the Boeing website and The USO of Illinois’s social channels. The videos featured an original score by composer Orbert Davis, performed by the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and recorded for a four-track EP that was sold on CD and via iTunes, with proceeds benefiting The USO of Illinois.
Then, for the Bears’ Veteran’s Day home game, Boeing distributed 10,000 American flags to the 60,000 stadium attendees, unfurled a 40-yard flag on the field, and orchestrated a stadium-wide salute prior to kickoff. This was photographed via the Bears’ Fancam and hosted online so that attendees could share the high-res images. Continuing the theme, the halftime show featured a performance by West Point Academy’s Knight Caps and speeches by Boeing executives, veterans, and reps from the USO of Illinois, followed by the premiere of a two-minute video featuring Davis’s music.
The campaign, which ran from the start of football season through May, generated earned media coverage valued at more than $1.6 million. The USO of Illinois’s Facebook following grew by 163%. And Boeing and The USO of Illinois were so pleased with the response, the Home & Away campaign is being rolled out in multiple markets for upcoming sports seasons.