Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Best and Worst Catalog Copy of 2015

The “Almosts”:

For the second straight year, if “Best” weren’t limited to five, 32 Bar Blues would be one of the golden choices. The combination of tight copy strengthened with specifics and speckled with humor, all in a single paragraph, is unique. This column doesn’t have room for much, but just check out these clever product headings:

STONE TO THE BONE

or

HERE COMES DE HONEY MAN

So why isn’t it in the top five? It’s a clever one-string fiddle, sometimes over the top. Cleverness can bite.

The total description of tee shirts, headed by “THE EASY WINNERS”:

Greater tone, greatest feel. Velvet washed cotton jersey. Softness and patina like old truck paint. Short sleeves. Rib V-neck. None better. Made in the USA. Copper or Chambray. Sizes: M-XXL.

How many skimmers stop cold at “old truck paint”?

Next: Northwest Wild Foods has photographs so appetizing-looking they generate instant desire. But for our purposes, the photos are ancillaries. Basic appeal comes from the copy. This example indicates how close the persuasion can be, for “Fresh Frozen Marionberries”: “A plump and juicy blackberry, marionberries have less seeds than traditional blackberries, but an intense flavor making an excellent choice for pies, jams, smoothies and more.” OK, guys, clean up your grammar and add some relevant specifics and maybe we can move up to a higher level.

Next: Choxi may be an advance look into the future of online catalogs. (The company formerly was named Nomorerack.) On the screen are eight or nine unrelated items, each one represented by original price, discount price, and one or two lines of descriptive copy. The copywriter is merely a housekeeper, but the importance of quick scanning becomes apparent when scrolling down, page after page, with as possible total of a hundred or more discounted items. The idea of having to register for membership, tied to a flat $2 shipping charge, isn’t about to cause panic at Amazon, but the site is still relatively new … and loaded with apparent deals, clearly stated.

NEXT PAGE: OK, back to Planet Earth…

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