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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Toyota, Philadelphia Sports Teams Go Extra Mile to Honor the Military

Toyota - Philadelphia - Military

Photo via @Eagles on Twitter.

The City of Brotherly Love has always been known for both its sense of community and intense sports fandom. With the help of Toyota, the Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers, and Union put on a display that exudes the kind of American patriotism which harkens back to the city’s early beginnings.

This year, 25 local Toyota dealers teamed up with the professional franchises to integrate campaigns into each of their military appreciation-themed games.

Through a combination of joint messaging across all five teams, as well as unique activations put on by each individual club, the Philadelphia community has been a melting pot for sports fans and military personnel alike to come together and honor America’s heroes this year.

Philadelphia Union

The Union kicked off Toyota’s sponsorship series with their Military Appreciation Night on May 19 of this year. To start, the first 5,000 fans entering Talen Energy Stadium received a free camo hat courtesy of Toyota.

Branches of the military were also directly involved by interacting with fans on the Toyota Plaza prior to kickoff. Other activations included U.S. Army Sergeant Tony Yates singing the national anthem, a large American flag at midfield being hoisted by active military members, and Union players wearing limited-edition military appreciation hoodies during the team walk-out.

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“It is also very important to recognize and honor those who have fallen and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Tim McDermott, chief business officer for the Union. “This is central to the Union’s support for our military around Memorial Day and all season long. And, it is an honor and privilege to have partnered with Toyota and our sports colleagues here in Philadelphia again this Veterans Day weekend to salute our service men and women.”

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies, meanwhile, hosted their Salute to Veterans Celebration presented by Toyota on Independence Day. One of the more engaging festivities of the day involved all Phillies day-of-game employees who served in the U.S. military having the honor of carrying the 50 state flags onto the field during pre-game ceremonies.

Additional highlights included having an all-service color guard presenting the colors and Sgt. Brian J. Clemente of the U.S. Marine Corps leading fans in the reciting of the “Pledge of Allegiance.”

Plus, 1,000 fans who wanted to take home a souvenir from that day could purchase an exclusive Phillies Salute to Veterans “Home of the Brave” t-shirt ticket package.

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“The overall collaboration together is part of each team’s individual efforts to salute active military members and honor veterans throughout the year,” said Dave Buck, the Phillies’ executive vice president. “Our annual Salute to Veterans Celebration presented by Toyota during the season is the culmination of the Phillies’ yearlong tribute to those that serve our country. While our team is in the offseason during Veterans Day Weekend, we are proud to again partner with Toyota, and fellow Philadelphia sports teams, to support – and salute – our active military and the nation’s veterans.”

Philadelphia 76ers

To kick off this year’s Veterans Day weekend two weeks ago, the 76ers collaborated with Toyota to showcase its “Stars and Stripes” program on Military Appreciation Night on November 9. The first 5,000 fans in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center were treated to a 76ers/Toyota co-branded camo rally towel.

But the activations didn’t stop there.

As it was its sixth year as the presenting sponsor of the 76ers’ Military Appreciation Night, Toyota stepped up by helping to provide over 1,000 tickets to members of the military and their families for that night’s contest.

The company also hosted pop-up workshops by Hiring Our Heroes prior to the game. The Honorable Patrick Murphy, a Toyota ambassador for Hiring Our Heroes, was also recognized for his work in helping veterans, service personnel, and military spouses to find meaningful jobs and careers once they return to civilian life.

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Other activities also included a full-court American flag held by season-ticket members and soldiers from all five branches of the military during the national anthem, as well as letter-writing stations set up throughout the concourse in order for fans to write letters to active and retired military personnel.

“Our season-long ‘Stars and Stripes’ initiative is the backbone for our organization’s support for those that serve in our armed forces,” said Chris Heck, the 76ers’ president of business operations.

“Our service men, women and their families make unbelievable sacrifices to keep our nation safe, and we are proud to honor them at our Military Appreciation Night and throughout the year with our ‘Stars and Stripes’ program presented by Toyota.”

Philadelphia Flyers

With Toyota also in its sixth year as the presenting sponsor for the Flyers’ Military Appreciation Night, the festivities continued the next night back at the Wells Fargo Center on November 10. Both the Flyers and Toyota teamed up to provide 200 tickets to local veterans and active military for that night’s game.

Additionally, local veterans representing all five branches of the military were honored with the puck drop, as well as being presented with jerseys during a symbolic ceremony, courtesy of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers.

The players got in on the action with unique camo-themed warmup jerseys. The Flyers also included the pop-up workshops by “Hiring Our Heroes” prior to the start of the game, while the Honorable Patrick Murphy was again symbolically honored for the pre-game puck drop ceremony on behalf of all that serve.

“What is great about the military appreciation efforts is our opportunity – and our fans’ opportunity – to give recognition and thanks to the heroes we truly respect and admire — the men and women of our armed forces,” said Shawn Tilger, senior vice president of business operations at the Flyers. “It is a privilege for us to partner with Toyota and show our appreciation for all of these brave men and women as we honor them.”

Philadelphia Eagles

To wrap up Veterans Day weekend, the Eagles and Toyota teamed up to provide all fans in attendance with an #EaglesSalute flag. As Toyota was in its third year as the presenting sponsor of the Eagles’ “Salute to Service” game, it further increase exposure by integrating content into the nationally-televised Toyota halftime show, as well as also highlighting the “Hiring Our Heroes” platform featuring Medal of Honor Recipient Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer.

Toyota helped to increase branding throughout the stadium by having a place on the cover of the Eagles’ game day magazine, video board, and two vehicle displays featuring Toyota-branded military vehicles.

“Our annual ‘Salute to Service’ game is an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the courageous efforts of our veterans and active duty service members,” said Eagles President Don Smolenski. “As we reflect upon the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I, we look to recognize and thank our nation’s armed forces for their heroism as a community of supporters.”

Toyota’s overall campaign allowed for each Philadelphia team to honor America’s heroes in its own unique way. In addition to these specialized activations, Toyota also collaborated with NBC Sports Philadelphia to release a one-minute Veterans Day weekend PSA. In the video, which was streamed on local Philadelphia-based NBC affiliate networks, players, mascots, and fans were showcased from all five teams as they showed their support to the veterans and active military still serving.

“At Toyota, we believe that hiring veterans is a smart move and a great investment,” Paul Muller, president of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association. “We encourage every business to support returning service members who are starting new chapters of their lives.”

With Toyota being a longstanding partner for all five Philadelphia teams, it was a natural fit for the brand to continue its community efforts through the use of integrated marketing and showcasing military-themed offerings.

The Philadelphia sports community coming together to unite for a good cause helped make this year’s Veterans Day weekend, especially, a memorable one.

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