Get ready for tip off. Sun Life Financial is set to offer employers a new place to take employees - the NBA basketball court.

In a partnership opportunity that company executives say is meant to draw attention to its voluntary products, employers and brokers can attend Q&As with NBA players and charity projects where NBA players will also be present. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The league is immediate elevation," says Sally Bray, Sun Life's director of brand advertising. "We wanted something with a national appeal and connection that will create differentiating experiences for brokers."

Bray says the charity events will take place in six or seven markets throughout the country that have not yet been released. The Q&As, which the company will call Chalk Talks, will take place in more markets, but those were also not disclosed at presstime.



Not the first time

This is not the first time Sun Life has joined hands with the NBA. The Wellesley, Mass.-based company has had a relationship with the Boston Celtics for several years that includes naming rights on the team's VIP social club at the stadium, courtside seats for certain brokers, and a ball kit experience for a broker and say, his child, to have access to the team's warm-up time.

Bray says the results in Boston were positive - brokers had a place to network with business leaders, small business owners and influencers in the community - and so the company wanted to replicate it.

"The opportunities to integrate [the NBA] are endless, they're a global company," Bray says.


Other sports partnerships

It is also not the first time a carrier has partnered with a sports organization. The Hartford has sponsored the U.S. Paralympics since 2003 and according to its website, aims for the partnership to "demonstrate our commitment to helping individuals and businesses break through limitations to achieve greatness."

Bray says, for Sun Life, the decision for them was the opportunity to have a national platform for local and regional events.

"That's key for us to get into a market and get passion," she says.

"The NBA is one of the most powerful brands in the world, and this partnership provides us with tools that will help propel our business forward," said Sun Life Financial's U.S. president, Wes Thompson, in announcing the deal. He also emphasized how the deal helps the company set itself apart from its competitors.

"It provides us with a unique platform to create a differentiated hosting opportunity for our brokers, customers and employees in local communities across the country," he said.

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