The Sun Life Financial patch that will be seen on the Toronto Raptors jerseys for the next three seasons is more than just a simple advertisement.

The partnership between the two organizations aims to promote the support of diabetes awareness and prevention, specifically in regards to type 2 diabetes. This will come in the form of a program that will launch at the beginning of the NBA season this fall. Exact details for the program are expected to be announced closer to then.

The 2017-2018 season marks the first of a three year pilot program the NBA has started with jersey advertisements. While this is an opportunity for teams for make more ad revenue, the Raptors and Sun Life are trying to do something much more. The deal is reportedly worth $5 million per season.

“The [jersey] patch is just one piece of the program,” said Lisa Ritchie, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Sun Life, to ITBusiness.ca over the phone. “This is part of our philanthropic platform. We want to build awareness and prevention among Canadians and in our broader global markets about type 2 diabetes.”

This isn’t the beginning of Sun Life’s efforts. The insurance company has committed more than $17 million to diabetes awareness and prevention since announcing it as a key business and community giving priority. For instance, Sun Life has been partnered with the Canadian Football League since 2011 for the Sun Life Financial Kick Diabetes program.

“We want to bring to life this notion of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle – being active. The message is the awareness and prevention of type 2 diabetes and about getting Canadians to really have healthy and active lifestyles,” said Ritchie.

“This is an exciting time in Raptors’ history and we’re thrilled to share it with Sun Life, an iconic Canadian brand who has been a trusted partner of ours over the past seven years,” said David Hopkinson, chief commercial officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (the Raptors parent company) in a statement. “This partnership, while breaking new sports marketing ground, puts an important issue affecting our community first and represents an initiative that we can all take great pride in.”

Sun Life isn’t the only brand taking advantage of these new jersey ads. Fitbit has become the Minnesota Timberwolves sponsor as well as the team’s official sleep tracker and official wearable.

With notes from Mandy Kovacs. 

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