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CyberCritique is Interactive Media & Marketing's monthly review of the latest online marketing efforts. Send comments or suggestions to Debra Aho Williamson at [email protected] or [email protected]

Marketer: MasterCard International


What's there: The goal of this image-oriented home page, called Pointers, is to establish MasterCard as a Web citizen. There are pointers-naturally-to other Web sites, fictional stories written by Internet users, a glossary of Web terms and something called the Visionarium, where you can use an ATM locator and learn about technologies like smart cards. The site also provides information on what to do if a card is lost or stolen.

Who created it: Modem Media, Westport, Conn.

Comments: The graphics are eye-catching, but the site seems to be more about the Web than about MasterCard. And for now, MasterCard actually discourages Web surfers from making online credit card transactions, suggesting they purchase goods by phone instead.

Marketer: Ragu Foods


What's there: Enter Ragu's Web site and find yourself in Mama's Cucina, filled with stereotypical Italianisms, dozens of recipes (featuring Ragu pasta sauce, Chicken Tonight and Pizza Quick), Italian-language lessons, merchandise and stories written by Internet users. For $3 plus two product labels, you can order a T-shirt that reads "Ragu Net Surfing Team," or you can e-mail a request for product coupons. There's culture, too, in the form of an architectural tour of a typical Pompeiian house.

Who created it: Fry Multimedia, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Comments: The site is as cheesy as it sounds. It's got personality, humor and spice. Hats off to Ragu for nabbing the URL it did. It's perfect.

Marketer: Southwest Airlines


What's there: Everything you wanted to know about Southwest and more: destinations, flight times, fares, airport information, city guides, frequent flyer program details, baggage rules. There's also a welcome from Southwest chief Herb Kelleher and a photo gallery of Southwest planes.

Who created it: In-house

Comments: Just like Southwest, the site is highly functional and a bit spunky: It's not a home page, but a Home Gate. The customized flight timetables add a touch of interactive control. Promised features include ticketless reservations, which could really boost site traffic.

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