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Cupid stunts to boost Valentine e-commerce

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A little over six weeks ago Web pundits were frothing at the mouth as e-commerce received a festive shot in the arm from people buying Christmas gifts online. For the last few weeks, a similar fervour has gripped e-tailers selling everything from flowers and chocolates to lingerie -- and all in the name of luurve. Yes, it's Valentines' Day on Sunday. But among all the mainstream attempts to generate sales online, there have been, frankly, some real cupid stunts. The most notorious was by those respectfully saucy purveyors of lingerie, Victoria's Secret, whose site was inundated by more than 1.5 million voyeurs -- sorry, visitors -- last week. The reason for this fatal attraction was a 20-minute Webcast of a catwalk show involving young ladies strutting around in their undies. What made it fatal was that most people who tried to watch the show only got a glimpse of garter or gusset -- rather than the whole frilly ensemble. The reason? The excessive traffic created an online logjam that even slowed-down other parts of the Net. Elsewhere, AOL is trying to woo more members by indulging in an online courtship, of sorts, with supermodel Cindy Crawford. Not only can you chat live with Cindy tonight, you'll also be able to gain four special insights into Cindy's "most romantic travel experiences". "For a great many American women, Cindy isn't just a model -- she's a role model who has successfully combined fashion and business, glamour and marriage," says Michelle Madhok, director of the Women's Channel for AOL. "And for many men, she's the ultimate Valentine, combining the flash of the supermodel and the friendliness of the girl next door." Quite. ®

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