Star Wards?

Proud of its work in the Washington market, Montgomery Ward recently mailed tens of thousands of videotapes to area homes showing off its revamped stores.

So why did a retailer that just recently emerged from bankruptcy protection choose to send out videotapes that cost $1 to $2 apiece compared with just pennies for postcards or paper advertisements?

A Montgomery Ward spokesman said the videotapes have generated an "excellent response" from customers. By using videotapes, the company also was able to describe in detail the drastic changes to the 19 "new" Wards stores, including those in Springfield, Falls Church, Annapolis and Laurel.

The company did not say how it much it spent to produce and distribute 950,000 videotapes. But estimates range from $950,000 to $1.9 million.

At least one marketing expert questioned Wards' campaign. A postcard advertisement, for instance, would at least catch a consumer's attention for a second or two, said Kenny Fried, a partner with the Washington marketing firm Brotman, Winter and Fried. But it's difficult to get busy people to watch a videotaped advertisement, unless there's something really special inside, he said.

"If it came from Victoria's Secret, people probably would take a look at it," said Fried.

-- Stephanie Stoughton

A Field With Pluses, Midases

If you're sick and tired of hearing how young Net-heads are striking it super-rich, stop reading now.

Fortune magazine's new list of "40 richest under 40" is almost entirely composed of high-tech entrepreneurs. Dell Computer's Michael Dell, 34, tops the list, with an estimated net worth of $21.5 billion.

Four area techies made the list of rich and somewhat famous. MicroStrategy's founder, Michael Saylor, 34, is the wealthiest under-40 Washingtonian, ranking No. 14 with a net worth of $695 million; 39-year-old Jeong Kim, who sold his company, Yurie Systems, to Lucent Technologies, is No. 20 with $429 million; new Redskins owner and Snyder Communications Chairman Daniel Snyder, 34, ranked No. 27 with a net worth of $390 million; and Proxicom chief executive Raul Fernandez, 33, came in at No. 34, worth $287 million.

-- Shannon Henry

DID YOU HEAR? . . .

"I'm glad the governor's in gear, but it's first gear."

-- Leslie L. Byrne, likely Virginia Senate candidate, on proposals by

Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) to fund new transportation projects in Northern Virginia.

Mothers' Helpers

Six Washington area companies made Working Mother magazine's list of the 100 best places to work for women with children.

The six companies include some well-known and some not-so-well-known names. But the magazine said they all have one thing in common with the other 94: They are flexible in their accommodations of work/life issues, and are willing to change their policies to suit changes in their workers' lives.

"We have to listen to our associates and act on what they tell us," said Nick Hill, spokesman for Bethesda-based Marriott International Inc., which has been on the magazine's list for nine years. "To us, it just makes good business sense to have programs that allow associates to pursue careers here and still have fulfilling personal lives."

Other local companies on the list were McLean-based consulting firm Booz-Allen Hamilton, Bethesda-based mutual fund company the Calvert Group, Washington-based mortgage giant Fannie Mae, Arlington-based media conglomerate Gannett and Rockville-based Life Technologies.

The monthly magazine surveyed hundreds of companies, rating them on a point system that gauged the type of benefits, how widely they are used and how available they are to employees.

-- Terence O'Hara