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Released May 13, 2003

SOUTHERN MISS GRADUATE SELLS NASCAR TO CORPORATE AMERICA

HATTIESBURG - Southern Miss alumnus Chris Marciani's fast track to success has led him to a place where speed is the name of the game.

Marciani, 29, a 1995 graduate, recently went to work in NASCAR's corporate marketing department. His focus is on selling the sport to corporate America, something he is able to accomplish by conveying his own excitement about the high-octane product.

"It's hard not to get up and go when your product races at 200 miles per hour, is the largest spectator sport in America and has TV ratings second only to the NFL," Marciani said.

The Hattiesburg native's rise through the sports marketing ranks has been almost as impressive as the rapid and widespread growth NASCAR itself has enjoyed. Right after graduation, Marciani took a position with The Collegiate Licensing Company, which manages the licensing programs of more than 100 colleges and universities.

"Great first job," Marciani said. "I learned the unique business of licensing, and also got to catch a Final Four or two and a couple of major bowl games."

Next came a stint with a company called SME, where Marciani worked on projects helping sports entities "re-brand" themselves. Among his clients were Conference USA, DePaul University, the Nokia Sugar Bowl, Tulane University and Elon College. He eventually became a director with the company and moved on to work with more professional clients.

One of these was the Arena Football League, which soon offered Marciani his third job.

"I spent two years with the AFL office," Marciani said, "and got to watch an emerging sports property grow into a network TV sport from behind the scenes."

From there Marciani went to NASCAR, where he now finds himself calling on Fortune 500 companies to tout the benefits of tapping into racing's loyal and passionate fan base.

"Once we get a company interested in partnering with our sport, we help them build a strategy that meets their marketing objectives," Marciani said. "That could include an official status with the sport, a team-driver relationship or other possibilities.

"My role is to bring a company through the sales process and get them integrated into the sport. After that, I'm off to catch the next fish."

In catching those fish, Marciani has some alluring bait at his disposal, as NASCAR fans can be found everywhere.

"One out of every three Americans is a fan," Marciani said.

Based out of NASCAR's corporate office in New York, Marciani is doing his part to make that ratio ever more favorable. As with all aspects of racing, it's all about drive. But Marciani differs from NASCAR's on-the-track representatives in at least one crucial way. On a career path built for speed, he's yet to find himself running in circles.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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