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When the Grateful Dead started its 100-day concert tour this summer, band members and roadies were loaned something unusual for the road, two AT&T video phones.

Sagacious product placement? Not only did one production manager see his newborn daughter every evening, band members bought 30 phones.

That kind of success has led to N W Ayer, New York's event marketing group being spun off as Ad:Vent, a new strategic events marketing unit.

Mark Dowley, 30, formerly an Ayer senior VP-management supervisor, has been named Ad:Vent's general manager.

The unit's clients include fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, a relationship Mr. Dowley struck up when he worked in sports event management at International Sports & Leisure, Lucerne, Switzerland, and ProServe, Arlington, Va.

For Tommy Hilfiger USA, Ad:Vent is working on car racing sponsorships and endorsements by Professional Golf Association players. The group also is working with Ayer client General Motors Corp. on a redesign of its World of Motion pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center in Orlando.

For AT&T Consumer Communications Services, Ad:Vent is renegotiating deals with a majority of National Basketball Association teams for AT&T's consumer sweepstakes.

"You wouldn't normally associate AT&T and the Grateful Dead ...but, in the music business, the Grateful Dead is known for its cutting edge technology."

Sound like a commercial?

"We'd love to make a commercial out of it," said Mr. Dowley.M

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