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LONDON-Marc Lory, a French native, has a tough job-selling his adopted sport to soccer-loving Europeans who find the gridiron a dull and dreary place.

The World League's two-month-long season kicked off this month, three years after the league was suspended by then-owner National Football League due to a lack of interest by the American public. This time, the NFL partnered with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Together, they have agreed to invest $40 million overall for four years to try to make the league a success.

"The World League is about marketing," Mr. Lory said.

Mr. Lory, 44, a hard-driving entrepreneur who is also a pilot, paraglider, ice climber and mountain climber, relishes a challenge. Earlier in his career, he was president and co-owner-simultaneously-of his own investment consulting company, called Invec Inc. and another company, Emile Henry, that imported French cookware.

He found time to also do a stint as a McKinsey & Co. consultant in Paris and learn five languages: English, Spanish, German, French and Russian.

"I like it when it gets hard and stressful," said Mr. Lory, whose job, then, should be very satisfying.

Already he is changing the rules. In order to attract more fans in the target 16-23 age group, the World League created a more pass-oriented, higher scoring version of football than is played in the U.S. That meant changing a few rules, such as adding a one-inch tee for kickers.

"We want the opposite of what soccer is, which is, nothing really happens," he said.

Another problem is awareness. The News Corp. connection helps, with its Fox Broadcasting unit stepping in to negotiate TV deals insuring that 20 hours of World League games, much of it live, are on European TV sets each week throughout the season.

Mr. Lory has sponsors shouldering some of the promotion load, assembling an impressive list of deals that will play a key role in the promotion. He had a hand in signing Reebok International, Coca-Cola Co. and Quaker Oats' Gatorade to three-year agreements as primary sponsors, contributing cash and product.

Reebok designed and made the uniforms for the league and provides free shoes in exchange for free commercial time in World League broadcasts.

More limited secondary sponsor deals were inked with Fruit of the Loom and sporting equiment marketers Wilson and Riddell. Wilson gave the World League thousands of color posters explaining the game of football and prominently featuring the Wilson logo.

Under the guidance of the league, each team also has inked deals with local sponsors in its area. Ford Motor Co. in Barcelona is giving cars to the Barcelona team, which in turn will make its cheerleaders available to work at the Ford booth during a Barcelona auto show in May.

An 11th-hour deal with MTV Europe, still being finalized, calls for an as-yet-unnamed sponsor to give cash to MTV in exchange for the World League, providing MTV with 240 one minute highlight segments featuring hard-hitting football action mentioning both MTV and the sponsor. The clips will function as commercials for the World League, the sponsor and MTV, at no cost to the league.

"We believe as a team it is better to have several high-muscle partners than a buy-sell type of relationship," Mr. Lory said.

Conventional advertising is also playing a role. Each team has access to a stock World League commercial, and each is spending about $3 million on advertising, with the teams themselves deciding where the money should be spent locally. The creative and media buying accounts are held by different agencies around Europe for World Leage teams and local shops have the option not to use the stock footage at all.


Marc G. Lory

Birth: 1951.

Education: Undergraduate degree in marketing from Haute Ecole Commerce, near Paris; MBA, University of Chicago.

Career: Currently president and chief executive officer of the World League of American Football. President and chief executive officer of Orlux Distribution Inc., a Santa Monica, Ca.-based company that distributes Vuarnet sunglasses in the U.S. and Mexico from 1990-1994. President and co-owner of Invec Inc. and Emile Henry Inc., Santa Monica-based companies whose primary businesses were investing in real estate and distributing French cookware, respectively, in 1993. Previously consultant with McKinsey in Paris. Before that, assistant to the executive director of Unicef in New York.

Family: Single.

Hobbies: Mountain climbing, ice climbing, paragliding, piloting aircraft.

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