On a Roll: Rick Ryan

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Rick Ryan, 40, joined National Media Group, New York, in 1997 as VP-marketing after many years in sports marketing, including at his own company, the former Integrated Sports Marketing, Southport, Conn. National Media Group clients include Warner-Lambert Co.'s Schick shaving products and its 17-year National Basketball Association promotion, the longest-running promotion in the league's history.

Strength: Inventing events and promotions out of thin air, like the USX Open combining golfing with mountaineering.

Opinion: In sports, marketers have overused the word "extreme." It's becoming a turnoff to true participants in alternative sports -- a sign of mediocrity.

Insight: Sports marketing used to be dominated by small, independent companies; now everyone is in it, including big ad agencies. But the great creative ideas are still in short supply.

Forecast: Grassroots events are going through a resurgence. Media have become so fragmented that marketers are finding the only way to guarantee impact is through hands-on events.

Pet peeve: Seeing these dot-com companies blowing millions on Super Bowl commercials with no long-term brand-building plan. The impact of putting that kind of money into grassroots marketing is mind-boggling.

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