The Best and Worst Catalog Copy of 2014

Herschell Gordon Lewis
Herschell Gordon Lewis

Here we go again, and I’d better start with the double disclaimer that has applied since we started reviewing catalog copy some years ago.

First disclaimer: I’m analyzing copy, and copy only. The beauty of the layout is another topic. We’re after the copy giants and the copy pygmies.

Second disclaimer: I have baskets of printed catalogs and a memory-load of online catalogs, but I can’t claim exposure to every catalog.

I’d add a third disclaimer: These are my opinions, and they’re opinions. But you already knew that.

A curiosity

Before jumping into this jungle, a question: Did you get, a couple of months ago, a peculiar email from Magellan’s?

Magellan’s has been a particular copy-favorite of mine, and on several occasions I’ve publicly complimented this catalog company. So I was nonplused to get a well-produced email stating:

“‘Magellan’s, your trusted source for solutions and gear,’ is proud to announce new ownership.”

OK, so far. Then the beginning of a lengthy continuation:

“Part of this exciting adventure will require the Magellans.com site to be grounded for the near future until weather permits travel again. Please be assured we are looking forward to being airborne again as soon as possible and will be with you shortly.”

Huh?

Did a copywriter write that? “…grounded”? “…will be with you shortly”? And what are those unexpected negatives supposed to mean? Hey, new owners, one easy suggestion is to hire a selling-oriented copywriter.

Just before sending this column to the editor, I re-checked online. Unsurprisingly the ubiquitous Amazon is involved, but not in a clear image. And that same strange message was still there under Magellans.com.

By now the negatively-impacting message may have cleared up, but hey, that’s not a winning new start, guys.

Aah, on with the show.

NEXT: Honorable Mentions

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