WHERE TO FIND IT: altavista.com
CRITIQUE: A of couple years ago, Excite ran some banners (on adage.com, among other sites) with copy that read: "Lay Miserabble, even if you can't pronounce it, we can find it." We were bemused when we tried that very search and failed to come up with any sites relating to Les Miserables. Way to do quality assurance testing on your creative, we thought, snickering in a voyeuristic holier-than-thou way.
So we salivated just a bit when we saw the banners that Ask Jeeves, the natural language search engine, is running. These banners claim that the curious can pop over to ask.com, type in the phrase "Which Spice Girl is gay?" and receive an answer.
And you know what? It worked. Damn, that wasn't any fun.
Ask Jeeves not only would point us to several Spice Girls Web pages, but to general celebrity rumor pages, some e-commerce sites selling CDs and gay and lesbian books, some general pages on homosexuality and by cross-referencing with some other search engines, an article titled "Vanilla Ice becomes newest Spice Girl."
It's all about the old "show don't tell" axiom. In a simple execution, Ask Jeeves points out what differentiates its services from all the uni-portals and then delivers everything it promises and more.