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June 16, 2011

Sun Life Financial Announces Presenting Sponsorship of IRIS from Cirque du Soleil® at Hollywood’s Iconic Kodak Theatre

Two-year partnership features shared marketing content, co-branding, experiential hospitality and shared philanthropic initiatives

Wellesley, Mass. (June 16, 2011) – Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) and Cirque du Soleil® today announced a two-year partnership which grants the financial services company naming rights to IRIS, a Journey through the World of Cinema™, a new major, resident production created exclusively for Los Angeles, presented at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, home of the Academy Awards®.

Sun Life Senior Vice President and Head of U.S. Marketing Priscilla Brown along with Cirque du Soleil President and CEO Daniel Lamarre made the announcement at an exclusive creative unveiling of the highly anticipated IRIS production at the theatre on June 16.

As presenting sponsor of IRIS, a Journey through the World of Cinema™, Sun Life will receive extensive brand integration across a variety of Cirque marketing vehicles including: use of Cirque intellectual property, marks and logos; prominent inclusion in IRIS’ extensive brand marketing campaign; branded on-site experiences and signage at the Kodak Theatre; and VIP ticket and customer hosting opportunities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cirque du Soleil’s performances have become synonymous with excellence across the globe and we are proud to once again partner with such an incredible brand,” said Brown. “The relationship helps to propel Sun Life further into the exciting realm of the creative performing arts, enables us to reach and engage a key demographic and provides a signature opportunity for us to extend the Sun Life brand into the Los Angeles market – a city that is at the forefront of not only film, but music, architecture and the arts.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Sun Life is granted the right to include IRIS intellectual property in its advertising, marketing, digital, retail and internal campaigns. In addition, the financial services company will receive above-the-fold brand inclusion in Cirque’s media campaign which includes print, digital, television, radio and out-of-home components.

Sun Life will have significant on-site presence at the Kodak Theatre during the run of the show including an opportunity to create an interactive display showcasing Sun Life’s services and products that will live in the historic theatre’s high-traffic Grand Foyer. Other on-site branding elements include custom-created concourse displays and exhibits. The partnership also includes hospitality events for Sun Life to host its VIPs at IRIS shows and the opportunity to custom design an exclusive event at the theatre.

“We are eager to partner with Sun Life Financial and collaborate on creative, cutting edge marketing and advertising that positively represents both companies,” Lamarre said. “We are both experts in our fields and we’re thrilled Sun Life is committed to supporting the arts, once again bringing Cirque du Soleil to more theatergoers in the U.S. and around the world.”

Sun Life also announced that it will be the exclusive U.S. Insurance partner of Cirque du Soleil as well as an official partner for all U.S. Cirque Big Top and Arena Touring Shows, including: Zarkana™, a new acrobatic spectacle, at New York City’s historic Radio City Music Hall; Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour™, a 47-city North American arena-tour show which showcases the experience and excitement of a Michael Jackson concert; and Varekai™, in Manila, Philippines. The agreement marks an extension of an existing relationship with Cirque du Soleil in which Sun Life was as an official sponsor of OVO.

Cirque du Soleil will continue to support the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, designed to improve the lives of under-served youth by providing financial resources and education to students and non-profit organizations committed to increasing success in high school and beyond. This year, Sun Life hopes to offer special Cirque-themed team-building workshops for award recipients, led by Cirque performers. The students will practice collaboration and teamwork through the development of a short Cirque-themed performance while learning performing arts skills, make-up application and set design.

“Like Cirque du Soleil, Sun Life is committed to ensuring a brighter future for the communities where it does business and we’re excited to partner with them to bring the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, our signature philanthropic initiative, to Los Angeles,” Brown continued.

IRIS is the latest Cirque du Soleil creation: a fanciful, kinetic foray into the world of film. Weaving together dance, acrobatics, live video, filmed sequences and animation, the show reels through the history of cinema, bringing the movie-making process into sharp relief. The production is written and created by director-choreographer Philippe Decouflé, the founder and artistic director of the acclaimed French dance troupe Compagnie DCA.  Grammy®-and Emmy Award®-winner and Academy Award® nominee Danny Elfman is music composer. The show is cleverly named for the adjustable opening that controls the amount of light that passes through a camera lens, as well as for the colored part of the human eye.

Sun Life’s partnership with Cirque du Soleil solidifies the company’s commitment to supporting innovation in the arts and further extends its marketing presence in the U.S. Sun Life is rapidly becoming a leader in the sports marketing arena, with recently announced partnerships including the naming rights to Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins and University of Miami Hurricanes; a multi-faceted agreement with the 17-time World Champion Boston Celtics; and a collaboration with PGA TOUR’s Hunter Mahan. 

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. As of March 31, 2011, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of US $484 billion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com/us.  Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

About Cirque du Soleil
From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now a major Quebec-based organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. The company has 5,000 employees, including more than 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries. Cirque du Soleil has brought wonder and delight to more than 100 million spectators in nearly 300 cities on five continents. For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.

SUN LIFE FINANCIAL

Alexi Maravel, Sun Life Financial, 781.446.1624, alexi.maravel@sunlife.com

Keith Gainsboro, elevate, 617.861.3650, keith@elevatecom.com

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

Leticia Rhi Buckley, Cirque du Soleil, 323.308.6379, leticia.buckley@cirquedusoliel.com

Tim Choy, Davidson & Choy Publicity, 323-954-7510, t.choy@dcpublicity.com

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