Web Site Ads: Nowhere To Hide

If you're on a New York subway and a man hands you a candy bar, don't freak. It could be Lou Weiss, chairman of Pittsburgh gift-registry site wishbox.com. Weiss's favorite snack sports his company's logo, of course. He also hired a local drama prof to design a costume sporting a W-shaped smile for the company's mascot Wally Wishbox. To teach Wally a few steps, Weiss even hired a choreographer.

Not much is out of bounds in this season's promos for dot.com companies. Worse, there's nowhere to hide. Not at the mall: E-town.com, an electronics e-tailer, is sending laptop-toting workers to urge consumers to shop online. In San Francisco, where a barge often totes a 40-ft.-by-80-ft. billboard through the Bay, carorder.com hopes to go one better. The company wants to string a banner across the Golden Gate Bridge's toll plaza one day a month. In exchange, carorder.com will pay all tolls that day, plus kick in for bridge repairs. That may be one ad no one shuns.