22nd ANNUAL MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT AWARDS

Sep 01, 2007 9:30 PM  By

In celebrating this year’s crop of Multichannel Merchant Award winners, one thing is clear: As sophisticated as our industry has become during the past two decades, excellence in multichannel marketing is all about nailing the basics.

Every year we try to emphasize that our program is not a beauty contest; it’s a marketing competition. It takes more than a pretty face (or perhaps, gorgeous photography, appealing Web pages, clever copy…) to get catalog and Internet customers to place an order. You have to excel at it all.

Simply put, as a marketer, you must offer the products I want or need (and can’t find anywhere else), make the merchandise look its best with your creative, and sell me on it with your copy. And it’s crucial that you make it easy and convenient for me to order from you.

Our Award-winning catalogs and Websites do all of that and more. They’re the masters of merchandising, the kings of creative, the sultans of service, and innovators of all things Internet. In other words, they’re simply the best. And we salute them.

Melissa Dowling, Editor-in-Chief

2007 Judges

2007 Finalists

B-to-B Multichannel Merchant of the Year

GOLD WINNER: SPIN-OFF | Print Channel Fire Authority-Galls, Fall 06U

SILVER WINNER: BUSINESS SPECIALTY PRODUCTS | Print Channel Fire Authority-Galls, Fall 06U

Fire Authority-Galls
Galls, the authority in public safety equipment and apparel for more than 35 years, is on a hot streak. Not only did the company’s Fire Authority earn a Gold Award in the Spin-off category and a Silver Award in the Business Specialty Products category, it’s also our Business-to-Business Multichannel Merchant of the Year.

Why it won B-to-B Multichannel Merchant of the Year
Selling such items as apparel, helmets and hoods, eye protection, gloves, footwear, bags, flashlights, knives and tools, vehicle equipment, along with paraphernalia for rope and water rescues, and for traffic safety, Fire Authority makes its point with vigor.

The catalog presents the “complete offering for the firefighter,” said one judge. And it conveys that immediately with a hard-hitting cover showing a firefighter on the job surveying a fire scene. The cover further pulls the reader in with serious headlines, “You spoke, we listened,” and “Who is the Fire Authority? You are.”

Said one judge about the cover: “I think it’s great. These guys do a terrific job. You get the feeling that they know what that fireman needs. Lots of information. It’s a hard-working book. Good headlines.”

Another panelist said the print book’s cover “does an excellent job of telling customers what is in the catalog,” and it “certainly comes across that they are in the business and know what the customer wants and have a long history of serving this group, which they do.”

Another judge pointed out that the cover “immediately communicates who this catalog is for — the fireman. It cleverly gains authority by showing brands, including Galls, with whom it is affiliated. All the marketing elements appropriate for a cover are present. Editorial builds authority.”

Fire Authority is no slouch online, either. Its site earned praise for its “extensive SKU assortment, good brand selection and array,” and depth of products. “Exclusive merchandise is a big plus,” one judge said. “Search function better than many.”

Fire Authority drew accolades for its well-written copy. “Bulleted copy is effective,” one panelist said, while another commented that “the consumer product reviews are excellent.”

For example, check out this description of a Star Interceptor TM 4-Rotator Halogen Lightbar: “The wider design of this lightbar is created for today’s contoured, aerodynamic roof lines. Provides better light distribution and improved intersection-clearing rotator angles. Patented shock-mounted rotator system makes this the quietest in the industry.”

On the print creative and marketing side, Fire Authority carries a “well crafted” design, a judge said. “I really thought they did a great job pacing this huge catalog,” another panelist said. “Great hero shots on most spreads. It really was fun to flip through compared to some others in this category. Nice photography and great printing quality.”

And let’s not forget about the cataloger’s merchandising. Said one judge: “Excellent selection of products for firefighters. Seems extremely comprehensive. They come across as the leader in the market. Broad product offering well organized and paginated to help find what you need.”

Idea to steal
Yet another judge raved about Fire Authority’s index: “After looking at a number of catalogs, it is nice to see indexing again and sections defined in the offering.” The index caption reads: Find it Faster — Use our Expanded Index.” The index is alphabetized, making it easier to look up certain items, and under each letter it includes various headings such as “EMS” and “Eye Protection.”
— Jim Tierney

Merchandisers: Benny Blecher, Linda Carter, Mary Ciarlette, David Frye, Mollie Hacker, Wendy Holland, Shawn Lancaster, Ann Kuchar, Jamie Osborne, Jane Owen, Katherine Pace, Wendy Pettit, Aden Randles, Jennifer Robbins, Laura Thomas, Ann Yarbrough
Vice president: Jenny Super
Manager: David Robbins
Marketing: Andrea Clinch, Monique Meeker
Copywriters: J.W. Abraham, Barbara Elliott, Chad Kinzel, Adarrell Owsley, Allison Perry
Designers: Lane Boldman, AJ Davidz, Mark McCain
Imaging: Linda Slone, Cameron Wood, Tom Randols
Printer: R.R. Donnelley (printing and binding), Three Z (inserts), Quebecor World (order form)
Cover paper: 100 lb.
Text paper: 38 lb., coated body
Trim size: 7-3/4″ × 10-3/4″
Number of pages: 340

B-to-C Multichannel Merchant of the Year

and Website of the Year

GOLD WINNER: COMPUTER, HIGH-TECH EQUIPMENT, AND SOFTWARE | Web Channel Crutchfield.com

SILVER WINNER: COMPUTER, HIGH-TECH EQUIPMENT, AND SOFTWARE | Print Channel Crutchfield Corp., Fall 2006

Crutchfield Corp.
By sweeping the catalog and Web awards in the Computer, High-Tech Equipment, and Software category, Crutchfield Corp. shows it must be doing something right. It takes all the direct marketing elements that consistently make it one of the top catalogers and translates the experience online. Judges say both channels contain all the right elements to instill authority and build customer confidence in buying electronics by mail or via the Web.

“The catalog presents a comprehensive selection of product with great copy,” a judge said. “It devotes significant space to educating the customer regarding product to help them make correct choices and further helps the customer by emphasizing availability of customer technical support.”

And that carries on to the Website as well. Judges noted that while Crutchfield.com has an “enormous” amount of information, the tabbed product pages make it easy to navigate.

“The ‘best sellers’ and ‘links to selection’ tools, in addition to opportunities to narrow the search by traditional means, make the site simple to use,” a panelist said.

Why it won a Gold Award
On its Website, the “Hands On Research” tab for every product not only makes it clear that Crutchfield knows its stuff, it also helps assure and excite the customer. The site has “the best editorial sidebars I have seen on any site,” a judge said. “It has the perfect balance of commerce and support content.”

For example, the Hands On Research for the Canon ZR850 Mini DV digital camcorder not only provides the product specs, but includes just about everything you’d want to know about its performance. That means detailed specs like the capacity of memory cards, battery recording time, and what the software that comes with the camcorder allows the owner to do.

On the print side, judges raved about Crutchfield’s marketing stance, which is not just to sell, but to support the technophobes through its expertise. Ample space and copy are devoted to educating the customer about products and helping them make the correct choice. “They provide great customer support in an industry that needs it desperately,” a judge said. “This theme is well promoted throughout the book with great copy and shopping guides.”

The catalog is distinguished from the rest of the books in the category because “it presents a comprehensive selection of product with great copy,” a judge said. “They will help you get the right product and make sure that it works when you get it home.”

A panelist also praised the back cover not just for calling out product categories and savings, but for its “Why shop Crutchfield” section. It not only tells the reader about its customer support, shopping guides, and comparison charts, but includes a call to action to draw the reader online.

Idea to steal
Educating the customer is necessary to build authority and sell the product. The introduction of employee experts gives buyers a sense of comfort and reassures them that they will get the information needed presale — and the support afterwards.— Tim Parry

PRINT CATALOG
Director: John Haydock
Art director: Amy Lenert
Marketing director: Zach Zimet
Print/production director: Tim Hensen
Merchandisers: Dave Weisman, Carl Mathews
Copywriters: Mike Colley, Mike Sokolowski, Matt Freeman, Barry Montgomery
Photographer/illustrator: J. Stoll
Printer: Quad/Graphics
Cover paper: 60 lb., Stora Orion #3
Text paper: 30 lb., Verso Advocate #5, 30 lb., Consopress #5
Trim size: 8″ × 10-1/4″
Number of pages: 196, plus a 12-page insert

WEBSITE
Creative director: Archie Miller
Site director: Andy Stevenson
Website designers: Josh Thomas, Russ Bombardieri, Steven Schiva
Merchandisers: Dave Weisman, Carl Mathews
Copywriters: Jim Ralston, Charlie Pastorfield, Mike Colley, Mike Sokolowski
Marketing (lead generation): Garrett Mathews

Print Catalog of the Year

GOLD WINNER: COMPUTER, HIGH-TECH EQUIPMENT, AND SOFTWARE | Print Channel Black Box Corp., Network Services 2006

Black Box Corp.
Black Box Corp. is the authority in “DVH” networking products, according to its tagline cover. What’s DVH, you ask? It stands for data, voice, and hotline, and not only is Black Box the king of DVH, it’s also our Catalog of the Year.

Why it won Catalog of the Year
When selling highly technical products such as network cabling and routers and switches, copy is essential. Black Box has it down, with benefit-oriented copy that provides all the necessary specs as well. “Black Box Explains” boxes go into more detail on product uses and direct readers to the Website. Headlines support the benefit-oriented copy.

“This is a resource that will stay on the buyer’s desk all year long,” said a judge. Black Box’s 900 pages of product “are made to be interesting and informative.”

“It’s got terrific tools and a beautiful index,” exclaimed another blown-away panelist. “Oh my goodness.”

One judge praised the balance of selling copy vs. editorial copy, such as the educational sidebars designed to assist novice users. The ability to offer advice and demonstrate the benefits of buying and using a particular product distinguishes Black Box from its peers, the panel agreed. “In a technical market, the merchandising and copy are helpful resources,” one judge said.

It would be easy to have uninspired layouts considering that Black Box sells such unsexy merchandise as testers and switches. But that’s not the case here. There is good pacing, and the larger images broken up with smaller ones, all with text boxes that provide excellent information. “It is actually a fun book to flip through even for non-technical types,” said one judge.

And considering the lightweight paper required for a directory-size catalog, the printing quality and readability is “excellent,” the judging panel agreed.

Customer service has always been a hallmark at Black Box, and this catalog doesn’t disappoint on that front. Beginning with the table of contents, its guarantee is firm and easy to grasp: ‘We’ll beat any price.” Its free tech-support hotline is another big plus, said a judge, and is in line with the company’s branding message.

It seems like Black Box has thought of nearly everything, even in cases of water damage and accidents. To wit, Black Box offers “Fido” protection, covering accidental damage such as water. Your dog chewed through cables? Black Box has it covered. No doubt that’s where Fido protection originated.

Despite its extensive product, Black Box takes great pains to sell the product, giving each the appropriate space. Just reading about the protective qualities of Black Box’s server cabinet almost erases your own fears. “Fully welded construction, made of 16-guage steel.” And “gasketed doors and a filtered air-intake system provide the best resistance to circulating dust and dripping waters.” There’s such a variety here that more than one judge remarked about the book’s “mind numbing product assortment.”

Idea to steal
Granted, not every cataloger has the luxury of having a single product on every page, but marketers can learn from what Black Box does well: taking such commodity products as computer cables and networking devices, and making them heroes. On one page, Black Box pictures a single product — a switch for CPUs with multiple video ports — with nothing else but supporting copy.— Mark Del Franco

Manager publication services: Julia Leigh
Catalog supervisor: Deborah Baran
Designers: Dallene Davis, Roy Geer, Bill Hannen, Shari Scott, Joe Slebonick, Megan Vaites, David Wheaton
Writers: Caren Bachman, Rob Baran, Jonathan Decker, Jean Massaro, Andrew Phillips, Roberta Szyper
Traffic/production: Jennifer Galbraith, Missy Brytus
Photographer: Rich Angeloff
Editorial: Julie Daubner, Beth Frederick
Printer, color separator, prepress: Perry Judd’s
Cover paper: 138 lb., Sterling ultra gloss, #2 grade
Text paper: 60 lb., Orion, Satin, grade 3 (corporate section); 32 lb., Sno Cote, Frasier, grade 4 (folio); 32 lb., Ocean Cote, E.B. Eddy, grade 4 (folio)
Trim size: 8-3/8″ × 10-1/8″
Number of pages: 872

Business Specialty

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

New Pig Corp. | The Big Pigalog Buying Guide 2007
In 1985, New Pig invented the world’s first contained absorbent — the PIG Sock — to help clean up oil spills and leaks around machinery, and revolutionized industrial cleanup forever. Nearly 25 years later, New Pig has grown into a multichannel, multibrand supplier of products designed for spill containment, industrial safety, and plant maintenance to industrial, institutional and governmental facilities. But it hasn’t forgotten its roots, and that’s one of the reasons why New Pig is a perennial MCM Award winner.

Why it won a Gold Award
Quite simply, “the best I’ve ever seen in introducing a company and its policies in a fun, engaging manner,’ said one judge. The opening spread gives 15 reasons why you’ll love doing business with New Pig.

The judges glowing remarks weren’t reserved solely for the marketing concept. Copy and headlines were compelling. “Wow, great copy, great headlines. This catalog is the best.” The headlines, such as “Absorb twice as much as other maintenance socks with Pig Super Socks,” give the benefits and usage of each product. Then NewPig drives the point home in the copy, which is easy to read and understand even for non-experts. “The SKU index is ideal,” said one judge. “Purchasing agents must love this!”

Following Porky, Arnold, and Wilbur, New Pig’s mascot Sparky is a swine superhero in his own right. By giving the cartoon pig a personality, New Pig takes an industrial product line that could put people to sleep and makes it fun. “The personality of the pig comes through in their introduction of the company as well,” declared one judge.

Although New Pig skews whimsical, the company is deadly serious about spillage and spill containment. On page 51, two competing photos labeled “problem” and “solution” depict two ends of the spectrum. The supporting copy tells the customer why they should choose NewPig. “The Pig Pan is sturdy and wide based to catch drips. Use it on the floor instead of the unstable coffee can. It won’t spill if you kick it or accidentally bump it. The Pig Pan holds a whopping 103 ounces of oils, coolants, solvents, and water….”

New Pig doesn’t skimp on service. Judges raved, “excellent in every way,” from the efficient order form to the easy-to-find pink customer service pages. “That’s an ideal location toward the back of the catalog,” said one And the guarantee, as another famous animal pitchman might exclaim, is “Grrrreat!”

Idea to steal
It’s been said many times that New Pig makes a serious line seem enticing, but let’s let the panel say it again: “There are no excuses,” chimed in one judge. “Any product can be presented in a fun and interesting manner.— MDF

Executive directors: Doug Hershey, Nino Vella
Marketing directors: Mark DeYulis, John Fraundorfer, Tammie Shoop
Merchandisers: Jackie Billy, Chris Dilley, Doug Evans, Ray Fedeli, Dan Ferrell, Chris Iuzzolino, Tim McMillen, Mike Shouldis, Mark Woytowich
Creative directors: Stacie Fronk, Beth Love, Ames Parsons
Project managers: Michael Haslet, Lonna Pfeffer, Krista Rehm
Designers: Gina Baker, Lori Erickson, Brenda Kerr, Kevin Ludgate, Jeff Schiefer, Stephanie Yingling
Copywriters: Andrea Bartus, Norman Benford, Keith Eldred, Dustin Hess
Photography: Gina Baker, McManus Studios
Illustrator: Bruce Van Patter
Printer: Quad/Graphics
List management/broker: Edith Roman Associates
Cover paper: 100 lb., grade 1, Sterline Ultra
Text paper: 40 lb., grade 4, Capri Press
Trim size: 8″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 482

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

Chief Supply | www.chiefsupply.com
Chief Supply celebrates its 10th year as an Internet retailer serving the public safety and surveying industries with supplies from hundreds of manufacturers. The Silver-Award-winning Website’s product line includes uniforms, medical supplies, gifts, vehicle warning lights, and footwear.

Why it won a Silver Award
Judges praised the Chief Supply’s wide selection of products within all categories, and its excellent cross-selling and upselling. For example, the page for a water backpack includes must-buy suggestions, such as fire gloves and forest-fire shelters for firefighters. The site seems to sell all applicable gear and apparel for the target audience.

Judges also cited the smooth navigation and usability of the site. “It uses large fonts and easy to understand product descriptions, and they make it easy for the customer to get a catalog or sign up for its newsletter,” a panelist said.

The panel was also impressed with Chief Supply’s customer service and ordering; some described it as very explicit and confidence building; plus, it offers plenty of ways to get help. For example, a “helpful links” tab in the sidebar allows the customer to check on an order or contact customer service; another link tells customers why they should shop at Chief Supply.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Though Chief Supply caters to public safety and surveyors, this message isn’t relayed on the home page; in fact, the home page made it appear to be a site only for uniforms. “A short statement about the company and products would be nice on the home page,” a judge said. What’s more, “the page would also look more cohesive with fewer fonts and less reverse type.”

Another problem: The search results return way too many unrelated items, said a judge. Typing in “gloves” in the search engine brought up 151 items, ranging from safety gloves to work gloves to latex gloves.— TP

Creative director/Webmaster: John Procopio
Marketing director: Bob Lucas
Website designers: Eddie Thompson, Anthony St. Clair, John Kawaguchi
Merchandisers: Shannon Hawks, Julie Briest, Alyssa Cowell, Rita Silver, Ray Espy
Copywriter: Anthony St. Clair
Photographer/illustrator: Craig Ramsey, John Silla, Mike Carroll

Children’s Products

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

Hanna Andersson | Holiday 2006
Picture this: A curly-haired little girl clad in a plum party dress steals a kiss from a delighted little boy holding a small gift box. That’s the cover of Hanna Andersson’s Holiday 2006 edition, an image that “captures a moment that would tug at the heartstrings of the target customer,” said one judge. This edition also captured a Gold Award.

Why it won a Gold Award
In addition to the endearing photo on the front cover, “the back cover is sensational,” exclaimed one judge. The back cover photo depicts a family wearing matching holiday-print long johns; the text explains that “a portion of the profits from all the Tannenbaum print hannas [long johns] on this page will be donated to organizations that support kids in need.”

Moreover, the book has “great flow into the opening spread,” another panelist said. The president’s letter from “Hanna” about the gift of family time speaks directly to the target audience: “Our faster life today holds challenges for us all, but I believe there are solutions — simplify, shop early, and take that precious gift of time for yourself and your loved ones…” The letter is “friendly and touching,” remarked a member of the judging panel.

But merchandising is where Hanna really shines. “The product within the catalog is diverse but applicable,” said a panelist. “The beautiful dresses and family outfits are so picturesque, while the cold weather clothes — especially the hats — are so cute!” Another judge praised the “wonderful selection of product displayed in multiple variations across each two-page spread. Product groupings invite increasing order size with additional products.”

The design is “awesome,” the copy is “excellent,” raved the judging panel. Copy gives the necessary features and benefits in an interesting and varied way,” one panelist said. “Hanna is selling clothing with style and taste to affluent people with young kids,” said another: “This comes through on every page.”

Idea to steal
Customers like to know that apparel they’re buying from a catalog is going to fit. With a small insert on centimeter sizing bound between pages 2 and 3, Hanna Andersson “is directly addressing a common complaint about the catalog’s difficult Euro sizing scheme,” the judge said.— Melissa Dowling

Director: Yvette Velasquez
Designers: Yvette Velasquez, Chris Moser
Creative director: Mary Wilson
Marketing director: Alison Polenz
Print/production directors: Jody Palzer, Lee Beckman
Merchandiser: Jackie Ardrey
Copywriter: Elizabeth Gottfried
Photographer/illustrator: Ted & Debbie
Printer: R. R. Donnelley, Lancaster West Plant
Color separator: R.R. Donnelley, LPC
Prepress: R.R. Donnelley, LPC
List manager: Tisha Tyler (Millard Group)
List broker: Linda West (Millard Group)
Cover paper: 70 lb., Verso Influence
Text paper: 40 lb., Verso Velocity
Trim size: 8″ × 10-1/4;”
Number of pages: 92

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

L.L. Bean | Kids Almanac, Fall 2006
Just about everybody loves a snow day — especially children who don’t have to go to school. The cover of the L.L. Bean Kids catalog brilliantly expresses the joy and drama of children on sleds gliding over the snow. “Excellent photography on the front really sets the theme for the book right through to the opening spread,” said one judge. “The back cover extends that theme with a nice deal on boots and a reference to draw the reader into the book as well.”

Why it won a Gold Award
“This book is a winner in every way,” proclaimed one judge. Need more specifics? How about the “sharp photography and topnotch design throughout.” Or perhaps the “wonderful copy with straightforward feature-benefit in every listing.” Maybe the “easy selection and a strong use of headlines that included further reference to the Website.” For example, noted one judge in commenting on the super headlines, “Does it get any better than ‘Insulate your kids from winter’s worst’?”

The book is also visually pleasing to shop with. The typeface is legible and the images are crisp and detailed, noted a member of the panel. “The opening spread shows superior integration of the branding, product, how to shop, and their guarantee,” the judge said. “L.L. Bean does an outstanding job at weaving key service messaging throughout its pages.”

When it comes to merchandising, “everything is done right,” said one judge. “Packed with merchandise and not a boring page anywhere!” added another panelist. How terrific is this edition? “This catalog should be banned since it is so irresistible to parents and grandparents!” exclaimed a wowed judge.

And then there’s L.L. Bean’s cross-channel prowess. The catalog references the company’s complete Kid’s selection online in multiple prominent places throughout the catalog, noted a judge. “On the opening spread they listed their three ways to shop: through calling, online, or in their stores.” What’s more, “The copy on the guarantee is very reassuring and exuded confidence in their products.”

Idea to steal
Each catalog spread is well thought out in its design “and is based on the best way to showcase the product,” said one panelist. “Every element seems planned, even the service boxes, which are sprinkled throughout.”
— MD

Senior vice president, creative: Don Oakes
Designer: Vivian Page
Creative directors: Jim Hauptman, Marcia Minter
Marketing director: Steve Fuller
Print/production director: Jason Kendeigh
Merchandiser: Glenn Jonsson
Copywriter: Karen Rose
Photo director: Elise Plakke
Printer: Quebecor World
Color separator/prepress: Vertis
Cover paper: 60 lb., Verso Velocity, #3 freesheet
Text paper: 38 lb., Verso Advocate, #5 groundwood
Trim size: 8″ × 10″
Number of pages: 68

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

One Step Ahead | www.onestepahead.com
When it comes to Internet marketing, One Step Ahead sure isn’t lagging behind. The merchant of baby and toddler apparel and supplies has definitely found its footing with a site that combines good branding and navigation with clean design. “You can sell kid’s stuff, but still take a sophisticated approach to getting the sale,” noted one panelist.

Why it won a Silver Award
It’s easy to find stuff on Onestepshead.com, which harried parents of little ones can certainly appreciate. The site offers “good parity between browse and search results,” said one judge, and its search tool “smoothly handles typos.”

Another panelist agreed: “Search function is comprehensive, with visual results to allow customers to easily select products.” Some of the pages loaded slowly, the judge noted, but that was acceptable given the image-intensive product pages.

One Step Ahead’s copy is also a strong point — it’s benefit-oriented, informative, “and conveys an infectious enthusiasm for the product,” said a judge. Another panelist pointed out that “sidebars on customer reviews, product details, and images of customers enjoying the product were very nice to see.” Indeed, commented another judge, “Baby pictures can work well for politicians as well as the multichannel retailer!”

And for a children’s products Website, “I like the ability to save to shopping cart and registry,” said a judge. Breaking down the product mix by age of user “is very applicable in this market,” another reviewer noted.

Overall, “the site conveys its passion for serving young families, and the emphasis on service and general ease of use makes it clear One Step Ahead cares about its customers, too,” summed up another panelist.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The site’s home page and primary category page rely “excessively on graphical text,” according to one judge, which is a problem that affected merchandising as well as usability. Another negative about the Website, the panelist said: One Step Ahead’s e-mail sign-up function is “long and cumbersome.”— MD

Marketing director: Rachel Pendon
Website designer: Anna Sandoval
Merchandiser: Dan Tussing
Copywriter: Julie Kramer
Others: Alton Kusch, Bill Baldwin, Erik Holm, Ezra Oh

Consumer Apparel

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

L.L. Bean | Christmas 2006
Here’s the ultimate compliment for a consumer cataloger’s holiday edition: “This book is heir apparent to the Sears Wish Book, and it does a good job in that respect,” said one judge about L.L. Bean’s Christmas 2006 edition. Plenty of merchandise, displayed well. Wonderful design and production. Robust emphasis on customer service and helpfulness. Splendid guarantee,” the same judge raved.

Why it won a Gold Award
Navigation is a term more commonly associated with Websites, but it’s an important component of print catalogs, too. L.L. Bean understands this: “Fabulous navigation makes this book easy to use and really several books in one,” said one judge.

Another panelist agreed: “They created good pacing through interesting layouts, while also keeping a sense of organization under the category sections.”

Photography “shows great detail and texture,” noted one panelist. For example, a photo of a stack of folded corduroy sport shirts is so crisp you can practically feel the warmth and softness of the prewashed cotton fabric. The creative is complemented by “outstanding copy that is both pragmatic and inspirational,” said a judge. For instance, the headline for a spread selling sleeping bags invited customers to “Give the Gift of Outdoor Fun to the Whole Family.”

L.L. Bean displays its dominance as a holiday mailer. “Their big Christmas catalog is set apart from their smaller catalogs, not just in size, but in presentation,” said a panelist. “Also, they set the bar for great tools and messaging to make the customer feel comfortable and confident in spending their holiday budget with L.L. Bean.”

Idea to steal
Most catalog customers expect to see the president’s letter or some sort of institutional copy on the opening spread. L.L. Bean’s Christmas catalog includes a handwritten letter from a customer on page 3 that thanks the merchant “for so many years of customer satisfaction, for maintaining your high standards and realistic price tags.”— MD

Senior vice president, creative: Don Oakes
Designer: Erica Eysenbach
Creative director: Marcia Minter
Marketing director: Nancy Dynan Fischman
Print/production director: Jason Kendeigh
Merchandiser: Amy Steenstra
Copywriter: Leslie Gomes
Editorial manager: Jenna Klein Jonnson
Printer: Quebecor World
Cover paper: 80 lb., Verso Influence, #3 freesheet
Text paper: 38 lb., Verso Advocate, #5 groundwood
Trim size: 7-7/8″ × 8-15/16″
Number of pages: 280

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

L.L. Bean | Clothing for Women, Holiday 2006
Baby, it’s cold outside, but L.L. Bean has what you need to stay warm. That’s the message effectively conveyed on the cover of the merchant’s Clothing for Women, Holiday 2006 edition. And if the cover photo of a woman wearing the company’s washable, faux shearling zip-front jacket against a snowy alpine backdrop isn’t enough of a hint, the tagline “Find over 20 warm coats to bundle up in” makes it crystal clear what’s inside the book.

Why it won a Silver Award
“This catalog has all the clothing and accessories a woman would need for the cold weather,” said one judge. “The targeted concept of cold weather essentials is executed very well.” L.L. Bean uses the opening spread to consisely convey the key service messages and its very strong guarantee, noted a panelist. Also, “They use many opportunities to promote the Website and other services throughout the catalog,” the judge said.

And with the vast product selection, customers are spoiled for choice. For instance, L.L. Bean’s boot-cut jeans come in six different washes, a panelist pointed out; a basic pima cotton shirt is offered in 14 different colors.

“The book is well-designed, with superior production values and first-rate photography,” said a judge. The catalog makes good use of callouts to show it has more selection online or that certain products have matching pieces. For example, a page selling Bean’s Swift River Sweaters has a small box at the bottom promoting matching T-shirts with the item number and the Website address.

Not every judge loved the catalog’s copy, but most agreed that headlines such as “The softest, warmest fleece you’ll find at an outstanding price” were terrific. “Throughout the catalog, there is great use of the headlines to present spreads, and captions for more selection online, order by number online, and for the L.L. Bean gift card,” said one panelist.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The product density is “weak,” according to one judge, “and the pagination doesn’t vary much.” The panelist noted that “The first accessory doesn’t appear until page 24. Seems like a missed opportunity to cross-sell.” And although the copy consistently included features and benefits, “it doesn’t have much pizzazz,” a judge remarked. “The paragraphs get formulaic at a point.”— MD

Senior vice president, creative: Don Oakes
Designer: Erica Eysenbach
Creative directors: Jim Hauptman, Marcia Minter
Marketing director: Nancy Dynan Fischman
Print/production director: Jason Kendeigh
Merchandiser: Becky Egers, Deb Baade
Copywriter: Karen Rose, Kate Boak
Photographer/illustrator: Macomber Studio
Printer: Quebecor World
Color separator/prepress: Vertis
Cover paper: 60 lb., Verso Velocity, #3 freesheet
Text paper: 38 lb., Verso Advocate, #5 groundwood
Trim size: 8″ × 10″
Number of pages: 92

GOLD: WEB CHANNEL

The Orvis Co. | www.orvis.com
The Orvis Co.’s Website is as good as Gold. Not only did the outdoor sporting gear, apparel, and home decor merchant land the Gold Award in the Consumer Apparel and Sporting Goods categories, it took the Silver in the Consumer Specialty Products and Gifts categories as well.

Why it won a Gold Award
What’s so great about Orvis.com? Where do we start… Okay, we’ll start at the beginning: “Excellent home page,” praised one judge. “Clear, multiple calls to action are evident, and the home page truly draws the shopper in with a variety of offers.” The overall design of the home page, added another panelist, “allows for a lot of information without a lot of clutter.”

Orvis.com also demonstrates excellence in merchandising on all fronts, with depth of product serving a diverse customer base. “Navigational icons for alternate product views, and sizing charts are clear and simple,” said one panelist. “Product page features multiple special offers in the form of credit card deals and ‘bill me later’ offers. Live chat is available right from the home product page.” Added another judge: “Great use of cross-selling or out-of-stock substitutes, with next-best-seller capability.”

Copy is also a strong suit for Orvis.com. “Sentences are loaded with good information that is clear, to the point, and benefit-oriented,” said one judge. “I also found the naming of the categories within the navigation to be quite clear and easy to understand.”

Also, a panelist pointed out that “the pages are well titled, and they use a decent amount of search-engine-friendly keywords in the copy.”

Another member of the judging panel was wowed by Orvis’s functionality. “The dynamic display of personalized products is impressive and certainly helps conversions.”

Idea to steal
Try letting your customers do the talking. The addition of “recommendations,” or customer reviews, “puts Orvis at the top of its category,” said one judge. “More companies should take the plunge and allow product reviews on their site.”— MD

Creative director: Jason Tors
Marketing director: Brad Wolansky
Website designer: John Stalcup
Merchandiser: Patrick Livingston, Dawn Fisher
Copywriter: Kimberly Bellamy, Tim Bronson, Lucinda Heuschkel, Eric Rickstad

Consumer Specialty Products

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

Country Walkers | 2007
Country Walkers has walked away with the Gold Award in the Consumer Specialty Products category. With its tagline, this marketer of walking vacations invites customers to “explore the world one step at a time.” Country Walkers has for 28 years provided adventure travel to just about any place you could think to visit, and judging by its past achievements, its future road looks smooth.

Why it won a Gold Award
Whatever Country Walkers attempts, its catalog delivers. Ranging from vivid, picturesque photography to interesting copy to informative maps, it all adds up to quality. “It’s a beautiful book,” said one judge. “I love the little maps that look like water colors. It’s almost like a reference guide. It makes this book so friendly.”

For example, a photograph of three people walking up a slight hill in Wales, surrounded by lush green scenery, makes the setting appear to be the most peaceful spot on earth. Incredible photography mixes shots of scenery with tour travelers and locals. “Beautiful production, photography, paper, and size,” one judge said, while another added: “A fantastic job of clean, uncluttered design. This book stood out among several in the travel/touring genre, partly because it was tasteful and unfussy.”

Copy earned accolades as well. “Copy is just right,” one panelist said. “It uses the first person plural — we — to describe just how much fun and enlightenment participants can expect. Sidebars and charts add clarity.” Another judge said the copy perfectly complements the stunning photography. “Romance copy makes you want to be there. Details of each tour answer all questions clearly.” The copy is “very descriptive, but never to the point of getting boring,” added a third panel member.

The vacations are wide ranging, “but never exotic or dangerous,” one judge said. “Each one seems to build on the last. If you are a walker or considering taking a vacation, there is something for everyone, either by part of the world or skill level. I specifically like the variations of their product on the same theme — for women, for family, and for special occasions.”

Let’s not forget the cover, which shows a hiker descending a small mountain into a Medieval-looking, European town, punctuated by a church steeple and scenic hillsides. “The cover set the tone for the entire book and it doesn’t let you down,” one judge said. “Gorgeous photos of places you can visit, great shots of food, sites, and people. The cover creates a desire for those who aspire to go to different parts of the world and experience the sites. You can feel it on the cover and it is carried through every page.”

Idea to steal
Country Walkers uses real clients and employees to help create a “picture yourself there” theme. For example, a photo of two women posing for a picture during a hike in bucolic Vermont makes you want to sign up for a tour immediately.— JT

Director/marketing director: Carolyn Walters Fox
Designer/creative director/print and production director: Tina Christensen (Christensen Design)
Copywriter: Erik Esckilsen
Printer/color separator: Sells Printing
List manager: Bob Elsasser
Cover paper: 9 pt. Sterling Gloss r
Text paper: 80 lb. Sterling
Trim size: 8-1/5″ × 11-1/8;”
Number of pages: 112

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Patagonia | 2006-07 Fall/Winter
When you hear Patagonia, you think of excellence and quality. The company’s 2006-07 Fall/Winter catalog grips the outdoors fan from the cover and doesn’t let go until the last page. A black-and-white cover photo, shot in a hazy fog, shows a male hiker triumphantly reaching the summit of a mountain. “This is one of the best examples of how to engage the enthusiast in a catalog that I’ve seen,” one judge said. “The action shots using their product were wonderful. I couldn’t wait to get to the next stunning picture. The statement made here is that product works — look at it in use.”

Why it won a Silver Award
Patagonia opens with a “great use of both covers to tell the Patagonia story,” a judge said. “Stunning photography, unique page size, and 40%-100% post-consumer waste paper. Patagonia knows its audience and markets directly to them.”

From a merchandising standpoint, this catalog sells “gear designed by climbers for climbers,” said another panelist. Sale items include men’s and women’s Capilene bottoms, premium down vests and parkas, travel packs, polo shirts, and jackets. Presumably, said another judge, “most products are worn by people who’ve never set foot on a mountain, but the brand is powerful and the clothing is right.”

Another panelist described the copy as “story telling. You want to read the book.” Other judges felt the copy was “educational and inspirational, with compelling sidebars”; “great blend of story-telling emotion, product romance copy, and technical detail makes you want to read every word.”

Indeed, a panelist praised, the book’s copy “hit a home run. The articles or stories throughout the book are wonderful, not overdone at all. Even for me, someone who isn’t an enthusiast, I thought that they were interesting and easy to read and certainly got me into and through the book.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
As much as most of the panel loved the creative, some thought it was too dark in places. Said one panelist: “I think that the product pictures, especially when it comes to any dark color, are not good. I can’t really see much detail of the products.” What’s more, the judge said, “pricing is almost hidden and in a very small font.”— JT

Designer: Annette Scheid
Photo editor: Jane Sievert
Product photography: Jim Arneson
Photography art director: Billie Jan Houston
Managing copy editor: Alyssa Firmin
Production managers: Angela Weidmann, Sarah Sweeny
Creative director: Rob BonDurant
Merchandisers: Kevin Churchill, Carrie Randolph
Director of direct mail: Morlee Griswold
Circulation manager: Ken Storey
Database provider: Abacus
Printer: Arandell Corp.
Separator: Schawk
Paper broker: Strategic Paper Group
Cover paper: 70 lb., Mohawk 50/10 matte, grade #1, 50% post-consumer waste, FSC-certified and produced with wind power
Text paper: 45 lb., Stora Enso Polaris Press arbor silk, grade #4, 40% post-consumer waste
Trim size: 10″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 96

GOLD: WEB CHANNEL

eBags | www.ebags.com
With a stellar site selling thousands of handbags, luggage items, backpacks, laptop cases, sports duffles, wallets, and much more, it’s no wonder that eBags has bagged yet another Gold Award. The site provides “a very resourceful shopping experience — competitively priced, ships fast, top brands, plus customer engagement with the site and the brand,” marveled one judge.

EBags “displays a broad array of products and services remarkably well,” added another panelist.

Why it won a Gold Award
EBags demontrates its excellence from the start with its home page. One judge remarked that the home page design “offers a lot of functions without seeming too cluttered, with strong branding and customer service functionality.” Another member of the panel has the description down to a science: “The home page effectively hooks the left-brained shopper with its logical and intuitive product navigation expanded to just the right level to help the shopper start tracking the shopping scent. The right-brained shopper is apt to respond to string-hero merchandising in the body of the page.”

Whether you’re left- or right-brain oriented, if you need any kind of bag, eBags has it. “The site offers an authoritative selection in nearly every subcategory. It provides good winnowing tools on all its product lists. It cross-sells intelligently, while cultivating and protecting the order for the primary items with well-placed reviews and reassurances,” a judge said.

Customer service functionality “is definitely a strength of this site,” a panelist pointed out. “Feedback mechanisms, customer reviews, product comparisons, and detailed polices on returns and privacy create an impression of effective customer service.”

Navigation and usability are also impressive. “The site is a textbook example of how to help users find and track the shopping scent: throughout the drill-down, choices become more relevant and specific,” said one judge. “As a result, the site seems even faster than it is.”

Idea to steal
Use sidebars and additional editorial content to help sell and highlight other purchasing options. EBag’s subtle functions such as “help me choose the right bag” appeal to the newer customers, pointed out one of the panelists. “And the customer reviews and ‘worry-free’ branding create a strong feeling of trust when purchasing,” the same judge said.— MD

Creative director: Nancy Behrendt
Marketing director: Chris Seahorn
Webmaster: Dan Werling
Website designer: Jason Carncross
Merchandiser: Karen Centner
Photographer/illustrator: Casey Brown

GOLD: WEB CHANNEL
also SILVER: Computer, High-Tech Equipment and Software

Musician’s Friend | www.musiciansfriend.com
Singer/songwriter James Taylor penned the lyric, “Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend?” To musicians and budding rock stars in need of guitars, amps, keybords, and more, the Musician’s Friend Website is a friend indeed. In addition to buying gear, musicians can get online lessons from Berklee School faculty, learn about artists, and read the latest industry news on this Silver-winning site.

Why it won a Silver Award
For starters, “Given their brand and what they are trying to do online, the home page is very appropriate for their customers,” a judge said. “There is solid merchandising strategy throughout the Website, and the customer reviews section is excellent.”

Musiciansfriend.com also does a great job of engaging the consumer. More than one judge loved the “Stupid Deal of the Day” on the front page, a promotion in which users click for a mystery product that has been discounted. Others liked that Musician’s Friend took advantage of video to add value and interest — without sacrificing page load speed.

Judges liked that the Website’s resources help Musician’s Friend become an online community instead of just an e-commerce portal. A “quick find” tab next to the search bar allows the user to read articles, read hands-on reviews of products sold on the site, and subscribe to a newsletter.

“There’s a lot going on, but it’s still clean,” a judge said. “The site is a bit much, but it never stops selling.”

For example, subscribing to the newsletter also enters the consumer into a sweepstakes for whatever prize Musician’s Friend may be giving away. And clicking on “articles” brings up a plethora of resources, like a Q&A from the “Ask the Teacher” section of Rockhousemethod.com, buyer’s guides, and a media center that contains hundreds of product videos.

But judges say Musician’s Friend’s Website sets itself apart from the others by keeping musiciansfriend.com organized and orderly and, as a result, user-friendly.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Judges had some issues with the site’s left navigation bar. It disappears in the shopping cart, making it more difficult than necessary to navigate back to products. Also, there is no “continue shopping” link in the cart, which discourages add-ons.

Another pet peeve of one judge: “Shipping charges and policies should not be buried, and navigation within the customer service section is difficult.”— TP

Webmaster/director of e-commerce systems: Christopher James
Website designers: Jason Cave, Don Guy
Merchandisers: Shane Halstead, Chris Tso, Dave Pelletier
Lead Internet copywriter: Marty Paule
Online marketing manager: Shanti Shunn
Associate brand manager: Steven Gillen
Managers, e-commerce systems: Andrew Dubry, Tony Fleisher
Web programmers: Christopher Maujean, Jason Sikes, John Fox, Lane Van Hout, Michael Eastman, Chris Boyer, Erik Arneson, Jeremy Echols, Jesse Williamson
Senior program analysts: Craig Peterson, Ty Cook

Food

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Harry & David | Harvest Celebration 2006
Can you fall in love with a peach?” asked one judge after seeing the cover of Harry & David’s Harvest Celebration 2006 edition. You can actually fall in love with a photo of a peach — when lush photography shows such detail from the delicate fuzz of the fruit’s skin to the juices pooling under a cut slice.

“Exceptional photography,” said another panelist about the cover, adding that the “sale” dot whack draws you in.

Why it won a Silver Award
The book’s merchandising is, as one judge put it, if not perfect, “so close to perfect that one can barely discern the difference. A page selling buttery pound cake topped with raspberry sauce and Harry & David’s signature Oregold peaches is “quite incredible.” To sum it up in one word, the judge added: “Drool.”

But Harry & David is much more than pretty pictures of fruits and desserts. Enticing copy such as “Juice, Ravishing, and Ready for shipment,” help cinch the sale. “Bold leads are effective in standing out to give a quick read of product positioning and benefits,” added another member of the panel.

Furthermore, the book makes good use of promotions to increase average order value, said one panelist. “Many spreads offer ‘Special Savings’ and ‘Save 50% on a Second.’ These types of promotions hold readers’ attention throughout the catalog.” And the design makes it easy to shop, another judge pointed out. “The catalog makes effective use of hot spots for selling — particularly the order form.”

Should any customers have concerns about sending perishable gifts, Harry & David’s superior service policies will put them at ease. The company “goes above and beyond in customer offerings,” said one judge, while another described the mailer’s service as “friendly, capable, bend over backwards.” A third member of the judging panel said that the strong gurantee “effectively communicates ease of ordering.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
“The paper isn’t the best for the quality of the product,” complained one panelist. Also, the judge said. “I’d like to see fewer images in the gutter with copy on the outside on the left-hand pages.”— MD

Director: Estin B. Kiger
Designers: M. Jovanovic, K. Barton, A. Fujihara, M. Edinger
Creative director: Cheryl Lewin
Marketing director: Bill Michel
Print/production director: Jack Kobinsky
Merchandiser: Denise Tedaldi
Copywriter: Marcus G. Smith
Photographer/illustrators: Ron Anderson, Eric Groetzinger
Printer: R.R. Donnelley
Color separator, prepress: Schawk
List manager/broker: American List Counsel
Cover paper: 60 lb., Stora Orion recycled
Text paper: 40 lb., Stora Nova press opaque recycled
Trim size: 7″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 48

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

Harry & David | www.harryanddavid.com
You can almost taste the chocolaty, popcorn goodness of the company’s Moose Munch snack mix as soon as you type in the URL harryanddavid.com. Then when you arrive at the site, you’re likely to encounter the image of a big, juicy pear inviting you in for a bite. For the judges, everything about Harry & David’s Website screams, “Come inside, and stay awhile.”

Why it won a Silver Award
Internet specials, free upgrades, Fruit of the Month Club, Buy two and save offers — as a judge put it, this site does it all when it comes to merchandising. The products are also consistent with Harry & David’s positioning. The site loads quickly, and the search delivers the results of misspellings. The site also makes it easy for consumers both to sign up for a catalog and get on its e-mail lists.

Judges were impressed that the site offered a clear customer satisfaction guarantee. “I’m surprised they aren’t using live help, but everything else is done beautifully,” a panelist said. “Guarantees should be homey and written in plain English. Their guarantee is crafted with elegance.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The judging took place during the Easter season, and several panelists thought too much importance was paid to the holiday. “By overemphasizing Easter, they risk limiting their customers on the very first page,” a judge said. “I would think perhaps a banner to Easter Specials and a wider variety of product on the home page might increase click-through. And people without small children might be turned off by this home page.”

Another panelist thought the site needed some work on copy. “Obviously they know their customer. I would think they could make better use of editorials, detailed product information, and especially testimonials.”— TP

Creative directors: Estin B. Kiger, Ken Nash
Marketing director: Ann Ashbey
Webmaster: Sue Eagan
Website designer: Ken Nash
Merchandiser: Denise Tedaldi
Copywriter: Mary Pat Roche
Photographer/illustrator: Ron Anderson, Eric Groetzinger, Iridio
Other: Jeff Dunn

Gifts

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

L.L. Bean | Christmas Favorites 2006
You can count on L.L. Bean for many things — outstanding product quality, commitment to service, and massive merchandise assortment to name a few. The merchant’s Christmas Favorites catalog conveys its quality with a fleece swatch poking through the cover. Soft, fuzzy, and irresistible to touch, the fabric makes the catalog stand out from the rest during the holiday mailing rush and, in part, secured Bean a Gold Award.

Why it won a Gold Award
“These covers do everything they are supposed to do, especially to make the product appealing,” said one judge. Inside, Bean proves it knows how to pace a catalog with “exceptional spreads” and “good, easy-to-follow layouts.”

Part of that is accomplished through color-coded category sections that guide shoppers to a desired section, and part of it is through the presentation of product options, such as color, pattern, and personalization. Take, for example, a spread of men’s wool sweaters. It shows every color the product is available in and stretches across the top of two pages, while three other styles offered, a model picture, and body copy tell the rest of the product story.

The merchandise doesn’t stray too far from the company’s roots, and the catalog uses a straightforward tone for its copy that is “clearly the voice of L.L. Bean,” said a panelist. Conversational yet informative, copy “is an almost perfect blend of description and benefits,” explained another judge.

For example, here’s the description for Bean’s Wicked Good Slippers: “Here in Maine, ‘wicked good’ is as good as you can get. When you slip into these soft shearling slippers you’ll understand exactly how they earned their name. Unlike similar-looking imitations, our slippers are made from superior sheepskin. Known as one of nature’s best insulators, shearling draws away moisture so your feet stay warmer on chilly winter mornings …”

Judges raved about L.L. Bean’s “impressive” range of products and helpful snippets about products and how they work and fit. An informational box in the women’s clothing section, for example, details how to choose the right jean fit. “This gives the buyer confidence,” a panelist said.

Idea to steal
Organization and consistency make catalogs easier to shop with. Bean understands who its customers are and what they’re looking to purchase. The merchant gives customers a hand in shopping by providing a table of contents at the front of the book to guide them to seven product categories marked by color-coded navigational tabs in the top corner of each right-hand page.

And once customers have found what they’re looking for, Bean employs graphic “gift tags” to draw attention to its affordably priced items.
— Heather Retzlaff

Senior vice president, creative: Don Oakes
Designer: Erica Eysenbach
Creative director: Marcia Minter
Marketing director: Nancy Dynan Fischman
Print/production director: Jason Kendeigh
Merchandiser: Amy Streenstra
Copywriter: Leslie Gomes
Editorial manager: Jenna Klein Jonsson
Printer: Quebecor World
Cover paper: 70 lb., Verson Influence, #3 freesheet
Text paper: 38 lb., Verso Advocate, #5 groundwood
Trim size: 8″ × 10″
Number of pages:
160

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Harry & David | Easy Gifting & Entertaining 2006
Santa shops here!” yells a line on Harry & David’s front cover. What more do you need to know when shopping for holiday gifts? This food and gifts cataloger makes shopping for presents easy with not one, but three monthly gift club options, including its ever-popular Fruit of the Month Club, Blooms for All Seasons Club, and Favorites Club.

Why it won a Silver Award
Yummy-looking hand-decorated “Cupcakes for Connoisseurs” grace the cover of Harry & David’s Easy Gifting & Entertaining 2006 catalog. The panelists agreed the cover photo looks “good enough to eat” and set a festive tone for the book.

Inside, judges called the breadth of products “impressive” and noted merchandising hits such as a set of four snowman spreaders. “I like the emphasis on new products and the attempt to market new products like the Waterford crystal and the Christmas throw,” said a panelist. “These unexpected items from an established brand give shoppers the sense that they might, indeed, discover just the right gift.”

Harry & David hits the mark with its “solid, energetic copywriting with the infrequent witty subhead,” remarked one panelist. Note the text for the Christmas Trio of Treats” “Treat them thrice-at a smile-making price.” Compelling descriptions make your mouth water, while crystal sharp images of its succulent fruit, chocolates, flowers, and gifts tempt your eyes.

The panel agreed that the photography, overall presentation, and flow invite browsers to study the delicious-looking offerings. Reflecting its promise “to make your gift-giving easier and more enjoyable than eve — and to delight your recipients more than ever, too,” Harry & David offers special packaging, greeting cards, and gift cards.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Some panelists felt that the catalog feels crowded. “The problem with this catalog is lack of space,” said a judge. “There is no white space. Is it reasonable to try to sell these monthly clubs using this method in this amount of space?” It might be wise to more frequently direct the reader to the Website for more products and services, “relieving the density of the catalog,” said a panelist.— HR

Director: Estin B. Kiger
Designer: M. Jovanovic, A. Fujihara, M. Edinger
Creative director: Cheryl Lewin
Marketing director: Bill Michel
Print/production director: Lisa Chang
Merchandiser: Denise Tedaldi
Copywriter: Marcus G. Smith
Photographer/illustrator: Ron Anderson, Eric Groetzinger, IRIDIO
Printer: R.R. Donnelley
Color separator/prepress: Schawk
List manager/broker: American List Counsel
Cover paper: 60 lb., Stora Orion recycled
Text paper: 40 lb., Stora Nova Press opaque recycled
Trim size: 7-5/8″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 48

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

L.L. Bean | Guide to Christmas Gifts 2006
If you need a gift for the holidays, L.L. Bean’s Guide to Christmas Gifts 2006 can help. The front cover promotes several gift options from balsam wreaths to turtlenecks, slippers and flashlights; it also advertises “200 gifts under $30.” The products are shown with page numbers “to get the reader to open the catalog,” said one judge. Both the front and back cover feel “functional and practical, and in that way, support the L.L. Bean brand,” noted another panelist.

Why it won a Silver Award
The range of products is “tremendous,” exclaimed one judge, who noted that the merchandise line covers clothing, toys, plants, “and of course, something for the family pet!” The book directs readers to pages where merchandise in photos can be found, if the items are not on that page, the judge said. “This steerage is good. The merchandise itself hits the mark for the brand and the customer.”

L.L. Bean also hits a high note with its creative. “There are some truly gorgeous spreads!” said one panelist. In particular, another judge noted, “Clothing is presented very well in layouts that never bore.” And the high-quality photography really shows the texture of fabrics, the judge said, while the color tabs for product categories that appear on the top of the right-hand pages aid in navigation. “The book has a good flow, it’s very easy to shop with.”

The book also makes great use of callouts, a judge said, citing one for jackets that said: “Versatile Tuckerman’s Jackets — 3 Jackets in 1 for a Full Day on the Slopes.” Overall, copy is “outstanding,” according to one judge. The product copy combines the information you need to know (composed of “removable Berber fleece-topped cushions”) with an appeal to the sense of love and kindness you feel toward your pets (“cradles your smaller pet in luxurious softness and provides comfortable support”), the panelist said.

“This copy doesn’t sparkle or wax eloquent like so many other gift books, but it is perfect in its fit for a brand that is based on no-nonsense, good value practicality.”

The voice, merchandise, layout, and design “are all combined to represent the brand position of quality, reliability, and service you expect from L.L. Bean, summed up a panlelist. “All elements are very true to their school.”

Another member of the panel added that L.L. Bean is “the paragon of customer service, and this book does a good job of presenting the specifics of this standard. It’s just a great example of how all elements work together to ‘be’ the brand.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Some minor points kept this L.L. Bean edition from claiming the Gold. For instance, throughout the catalog customers may have trouble reading the white type against dark-colored product, or when photos provide background for the copy, pointed out one judge. And sometimes, “there are just too many shots of the same product in different colors and sizes,” the panelist said, “which makes these pages very hard to use.”— MD

Senior vice president, creative: Don Oakes
Designer: Erica Eysenbach
Creative director: Marcia Minter
Marketing director: Nancy Dynan Fischman
Print/production director: Jason Kendeigh
Merchandiser: Amy Steenstra
Copywriter: Leslie Gomes
Printer: Quebecor World
Cover paper: 70 lb., Verson Influence, #3 freesheet
Text paper: 38 lb., Verso Advocate, #5 groundwood
Trim size: 7-7/8″ × 8-15/16″
Number of pages: 192

GOLD: WEB CHANNEL
also SILVER: Consumer Apparel and Sporting Goods

L.L. Bean | www.llbean.com
When it comes to merchandising its home page, L.L. Bean takes a “more is more” approach. This could be a disaster for many Websites, but with the gifts, outdoor gear, and home goods merchant, “good page organization allows the site to resist crossing the line to clutter, and instead conveys that there’s a lot of intersecting stuff going on here,” said one judge.

Why it won a Gold Award
“What can you say — this is L.L. Bean,” proclaimed a panelist. “As always, an excellent home page, allowing for ease of use for the Website. Design is clean, with a large amount of versatility.” Bean also does “a nice job with making lots of stuff clickable” on the home page, such as the guarantee and the phone number.”

As Web copy goes, “this is very good to excellent,” said one judge. “Clear, bulleted lists prevail, and all copy is benefit-oriented.” Here’s the copy for Bean’s Casco Bay Windbreaker when you click on the “details” link: “Everyone should own a Casco Bay Windbreaker. It’s lightweight, great for everyday casual wear and has a great low price. Packs into its own pocket to go easily wherever your weekend plans take you. Our exclusive, lightweight mini-ripstop nylon is tightly woven for wind resistance, while a DWR finish adds water resistance …”

It also helps that product displays are “clean and easy to manage, with sidebars interfacing directly with the shopping cart system,” said another panelist. Upselling is handled well on the page and throughout the shopping cart system, the judge said.

The site uses “a variety of tactics to drive the online order experience,” said a judge. “Applications that allow the customer to vary colors, sizes, etc., allow the customer to visualize the exact product they will receive.”

The search function is clean, “with a large amount of images to help in product selection,” said one judge. Indeed, L.L. Bean’s site “ranks as one of the best I’ve ever seen with regard to usability and informative product displays,” said a panelist. “The search function works well, and I was not able to fool it with anything I searched on. Well done!”

Idea to steal
Judges liked the confirming “cartlet” that appears after a user clicks “Add to shopping bag.” Noted one panelist: “The site’s approach to ‘add to cart’ confirmation is helpful, unambiguous, and helps the user maintain shopping momentum.”— MD

Creative director: Sara Holihan
Vice president marketing: Mary Lou Kelly
Webmaster: Brian Lemieux
Website designer: Christa Matukaitis
Merchandiser: Ann Stevens
Copywriter: Mark Ferguson
Others: John Kirby, Michele Parzianello

Hardware, Tools, and Automotive Supplies

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

J.C. Whitney | www.jcwhitney.com
If you’re a car enthusiast heading down the information highway, looking for adventure, J.C. Whitney is the destination for you. The automotive supplies merchant has had a presence on the Web since 1997, and has used it to drive truck, car, and motorcycle sales ever since.

Why it won a Silver Award
The Website has what you’d expect from a catalog company: a well laid out site with plenty of links for assistance. Easy-to-read copy and understandable features, and an option to read or write product reviews make it an inviting place for consumers.

J.C. Whitney “has everything automotive for all different makes and models,” a judge said. “The Website has good coverage of products and brands.” For example, clicking on the “Jeep” tab at the top of the page allows customers to purchase everything from carpet padding to an air horn that plays “La Cucaracha.”

The Website also got a thumbs-up for its interactive components. By soliciting feedback from users, it not only helps consumers make a better product decision, but improves the copy, said a judge.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
In trying to offer everything to everyone, the Website gets too busy. Functions on the site “made it confusing to get through, which hurts the overall merchandising strategy,” a judge said. It’s nice to have options, but J.C. Whitney offers too many hard-to-follow navigation options. As a result, users may need a good map or GPS system to get around the site. And too much content slowed it down — you can’t stuff a Porsche engine into a Renault Fuego and expect it to run full speed.— TP

Vice president e-commerce: Geoffrey Robertson
Creative manager e-commerce: Michael Hill
Senior marketing manager e-commerce: Roger Murray
Director of IT: Gary Johnson
Website designers: Michael Hill, Geoffrey Robertson
Vice president merchandising: Joe Risch
Creative manager, catalog: Kerry Gingrich

Home and Gardening Products

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

Jackson & Perkins | New Roses 2007
Thanks to the glorious roses pictured on the front and back covers, and on nearly all of the pages in between, there’s no mistaking what this catalog is selling. This 36-page Gold Award winning book is replete with a plethora of exclusive roses. “This is focused,” said one judge. “This is what they’re good at. It’s a fabulous example of how to photograph flowers.”

Why it won a Gold Award
The attractive cover features a simple yet effective closeup photograph of three color-blushed roses. “Covers shout reasons to look inside front — 50 roses exclusive to Jackson & Perkins, and 2007 Rose of the Year on the back cover,” said one judge. “It’s all unique and exclusive roses.”

Indeed, agreed another judge, the front cover “has a great product on it and very strong callouts. Very compelling to make you look inside.”

Inside the book, the array of merchandise includes numerous types of exclusive roses, gardening tools, and decorative pieces like a Cathedral Garden Arch, a Cathedral Bench, an Arch Arbor, a Windsor Arch, and English Pillar Frames. Another panelist noted: “Product selection is definitely a strength here.”

Copy is another of Jackson & Perkins’ strong points, according to the judging panel. “Nice blend of romance copy, background information, and product detail,” one judge said.

Another panelist added that the copy “works very hard. The detail provided for each flower or planting is important to the product selection. Very effective use of headlines to introduce each new product category in the book.” And another panelist summarized: “Enthusiastic copy is obviously written by flower lovers.”

For example, the catalog’s description of a Mother’s Rose reads: “Chosen for its striking coloration, lovely form, and remarkable keeping quality; it’s a gorgeous, flowering tribute to motherhood. This extraordinary rose bestows the season-long gift of unusual coral buds that graciously open to large, thick-petaled blossoms in unique tones of deep coral and pink…”

Jackson & Perkins “delivers a unique twist to the commodity of roses as exclusive merchandise,” one judge said. “From page two to the order form, everything needed to buy easily and with complete confidence.” Another bonus, said the panelist: “Beautiful photography that fits the products being sold.”

To be distinctive, one member of the judging panel said this book “focuses on one type of flower, differentiating roses into dozens of varieties. Catalog conveys a sense of quality service.”

Idea to steal
“You can slice and dice a category into really fine segments,” one panelist said. How does Jackson & Perkins do this? Through custom varieties of its roses, plus “very interesting tie-ins with celebrities like Pope John Paul II, Lady Bird Johnson, Laura Bush, and Princess Diana,” a judge said.
— JT

Director: Estin B. Kiger
Designer: Steven Burns
Creative director: Neal Schuler
Marketing director: Bill Michel
Print/production director: Jack Kobinsky
Merchandiser: Diane Reeder
Copywriter: Jill Thacker
Photographer/illustrators: Ron Anderson, Rob Rebman
Printer: R.R. Donnelley
Color separator/prepress: Schawk
List manager/broker: American List Counsel
Cover paper: 60 lb. Verso Influence recycled
Text paper: 40 lb., Verso Gloss
Trim size: 7-5/8″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 36

Home and Gardening Products, contd.

GOLD: WEB CHANNEL

Cooking.com | www.cooking.com
From conventional bakeware and measuring spoons to magnetic flatware retrievers to get your accidentally discarded utensils safely out of the garbage, Cooking.com sells everything but the kitchen sink. It offers everyone from the dorm room chef to the culinary professional just about any item for cooking.

Why it won a Gold Award
The site’s “excellent” copy did not just talk about the product, but went into detail describing merchandise attributes. What’s more, plenty of customer reviews complemented the editorial copy. “The product pages are where they really shine,” said one judge. “They are well designed and full of information and customer reviews.”

Cooking.com also offers up a 21st-century way to engage its customers. “They offer an e-newsletter with recipes, and another one to promote specials,” a judge said. “What a great way to drive traffic and build their brand.” The site employs more merchandising tactics than most, creating a cooking community with a slew of product information, customer ratings and, of course, more than 50,000 culinary items.

Cooking.com’s navigation from the home page allows for easy linking to the desired destination. The search gives the desired results, even if the product name is spelled wrong. And that’s something that could turn “Kweezinart” browsers into multibuyers.

Idea to steal
The site lets customers browse by “top rated” products in numerous categories, and makes that feature a part of the main page as opposed to burying it in the sidebar navigation. The gesture gives the user a sense of community and ownership, and not a feeling that he or she will be force-fed a product to purchase.
— TP

Marketing director: Larry Sales
Creative director: Eike Wintzer (Envisa)
Director of e-commerce: Anna Gould
Webmaster: Robin Kerr
Website designer: Eike Wintzer (Envisa)
Photographer/illustrator: David Frugé
Account supervisor: Francois Pigeaud (Envisa)
Consultants: Envisa, Jeffrey Schneller, Michael Cao, Chris Fargiano

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

Smith+Noble | www.smithandnoble.com
Window treatments can make or break your home decor, but shopping for shades, drapes, and accessories can be daunting. Unless, of course, you visit Smith+Noble’s Website, which sets itself apart by offering a measuring wizard tool and a wealth of helpful white papers, videos, and live chat shows, putting itself at the forefront of Web technology. And that benefits the customer and the bottom line.

Why it won a Silver Award
The site sells many products across all types of window coverings. Its category landing pages have good lead-in descriptive information. For instance, the Roman Shades landing page, which says that these window treatments offer “clean, classic lines suitable for any taste or decor style,” specifies that they come in a variety of styles and fabrics, and how they fall when raised.

Smithandnoble.com‘s product copy also is detailed and informative, including the benefits of each style and option. The design-your-own feature, said one judge, was beautifully done, and even allowed you to see the product with any room color to offer a realistic setting. Although copy is not bulleted, it is short and tight and perfect for the Web, a member of the panel said.

Take the copy for pleated arch shades, which drives a call to action: “The perfect solution for unique window and door shapes! … Download our Order Guide for details, including measuring tips.” “A host of helpful information was available for measuring and decorating, including easy to access PDF files, videos, and telephone support,” said a panelist.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Technology made the Website shine, but it was also its downfall in some places. The product page presentation includes dynamic flash image navigation, multiple HTML pop-ups, embedded tabs and a Web 2.0 swatch filter/search that expands and collapses, but also slowed the site down.

Another problem: Due to the complexity of the customization process, the overall ordering process is difficult, and getting product into the shopping cart is not easy.

The judging panel had some issues with the site’s search function as well. “It’s hard to judge whether the search finds what it should, as there are so many product combinations and options,” a panelist said. “Navigation is easy to use — as long as one knows the difference between all of the window covering types.”— TP

International

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

New Pig Corp. | The Big Pigalog (U.K.)
You might think that a manufacturer/marketer of industrial cleanup supplies would feel the need to keep a stiff upper lip when selling its wares to companies based in the U.K. But that’s just not New Pig’s style. New Pig Corp. understands that if you have the merchandise, creative, copy, and service to back up your offering, it’s okay to have a bit of fun with your catalog. The merchant’s Gold Award in the International category proves that the judges agree.

Why it won a Gold Award
New Pig’s U.K. edition gets the reader to take notice even before he or she turns one page. The cover photo of two pigs taking a dip in what appears to be a wading pool grabs your attention immediately. Upon closer examination, you’ll see that the porcine pets are contained by New Pig’s Spillblocker Dike, a portable barrier designed to divert liquids away from drains, offices, stock, or anything you want to keep dry. “Inimitable New Pig style, along with hard-working functionality,” said one judge. “A proven concept that remains fresh and engaging through excellent execution.”

The front cover touts more than 425 new products, while conveying that the company’s full line of merchandise is north of 2,500 items. On the right edge of the front cover, a color-tabbed index describes the merchandise areas. The index smoothly transports the consumer through the catalog categories, which include absorbents, wipes, spill control, maintenance, plant safety, and containment items.

Inside the catalog, New Pig’s mascot Sparky — a hardhat-wearing cartoon pig — helps set a light tone. Still, the book’s copy is serious and straightforward. “Heavy-Duty Multi-Guard Mats — your first line of defence for keeping entranceways clean!” reads one headline.

Judges also appreciated the “first-class, readable information-rich copy,” said one. The description for an industrial mat: “Hundreds of vertical scraping ‘fingers’ remove dirt and debris from shoes and boots, hiding the dirt from view and your building. Multi-Guard Mats are a good investment for preventive maintenance, and a cost-effective first line of defence for keeping entranceways clean. Ideal for heavy-traffic industrial areas, internal or external entrances, and any other areas where a barrier against foot-bourne soil is required.”

Judges were impressed with the Pigalog’s merchandising expertise. “Comprehensive product ranges across multiple categories,” said one. Another panelist added: “Excellent job throughout. You get a good sense for how the products will help.”

Service is another strength. New Pig highlights its 100% money-back guarantee right on the catalog’s opening spread and promises a full refund — including freight both ways. The book also offers “5 easy ways to order” and tells customers 15 reasons why they’ll love dealing with New Pig.

Idea to steal
Many business-to-business catalogs focus on selling commodity products rather than building a brand. But New Pig offers “unique, fun branding in an unlikely product context.” On either side of the Atlantic, customers shopping for items such as absorbent Pig socks enjoy a chuckle. — JT

Creative directors: Beth Love, Leroy Eckenrod
Marketing director/print buyer: Allyson Bryan
Merchandisers: Darran Hamilton, Gayle Paterson
Project manager: Edward S. Engle III
Designers: Stephanie Yingling, Brenda Kerr, Kevin Ludgate, Laura Shoup
Copywriter/translators: Dustin Hess, Andrea Bartus
Prepress: Julie White, Gina Baker, Jennifer Harker
Photographer: McManus Studios, Gina Baker, Alan Stewart
Illustrator: Bruce van Patter
Printer: Wyndeham
Cover paper: 250 gsm, wood free gloss board
Text paper: 80 gsm, UPM Finesse gloss
Trim size: A-4 210mm × 297mm
Number of pages: 156

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

The Orvis Co. | Men’s Clothing, Late Summer 2006 (U.K.)
All-American Orvis aims to outfit enthusiasts of the Great Outdoors. But will the concept play in the U.K.? You bet it will. The company’s U.K. Late Summer 2006 edition of its Men’s Clothing catalog stays true to its affinity for the natural environment. With a headline on page 4 proclaiming: “A cowboy for this millennium,” Orvis appeals to consumers who see themselves as rugged and adventuresome — whether they ride an Angus steer on a farm in Surrey or the Underground in central London.

Why it won a Silver Award
Strong merchandising, excellent descriptive copy, and clean design drive this 48-page book. From the “organiser travel waistcoat” pictured on the cover to its rhinohide trousers to its bandera leather jacket, the catalog offers what its core audience wants and knows how to sell it to them. “Very good product showcasing and describing,” reads one judge. Another panelist added that Orvis’s “strong brand image is distinctive and consistently upheld.”

The president’s letter speaks eloquently about the history of the business and how its customers experience a way of life that “expresses a deep appreciation for the natural environment and a lifestyle steeped in the sporting traditions and fly fishing.” The letter also does a good job stressing Orvis’s commitment to service.

Products such as a silk microcanvas shirt, twill trousers, and a lambskin flight jacket point to the catalog’s traditional late summer collection. “And the clean, uncluttered design appearance belies its efficiency,” said one judge, who praised the book’s “transitional season catalog execution.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Overall, the catalog’s front cover “might have been more colorful,” said one panelist. “And the back cover’s listing of stores and minimal Website address and phone information makes the catalog look less interested in generating an immediate direct response order.” — JT

Creative/advertising director: Bill Eyre
Art directors: Tim Achor-Hoch, Roger Edholm
Marketing director: John Rogers
Marketing manager: Lori Vilbrin
Merchandise director: Laurie Kunz
Production director: Meg Cassin
Customer service director: Lorna Connors
Production manager: Susan Murphy
Copywriter: Tim Bronson
Photo producers: Susie Stuart, Bev Kerr
Photography: Macomber
Printer: Winkowski Quadgraphics
List broker: Mokrynski International
Cover paper: Self cover
Text paper: 51 gsm, LWC Galerie Bright Portrait
Trim size: 202 mm × 267 mm
Number of pages: 48

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

The Orvis Co. | www.orvis.co.uk
Selling to consumers in the U.K. is just like selling to Americans, right? After all, we speak the same language, sort of. Well, creating an international site — even for the U.K. market — is not quite that simple. “You must take cultural and language differences into account on international sites, or you will fail,” as one judge bluntly put it. Happily, Orvis knows this, and that’s part of the reason the merchant’s site is a Silver winner.

Why it won a Silver Award
Orvis speaks to its U.K. customers in their native tongue, for one. “Copy has been thoroughly reworked to include British spellings and proper product names, such as ‘breeks’ instead of knickers, and ‘trousers’ instead of pants,” said one judge. “Straight text blocks are used instead of bullets and outline forms, but the copy blocks are short and concise enough to be effective.”

Here’s the description for Orvis’s Presidential Microfibre Long Sleeve Shirt: “This basic button-down is anything but basic. In fact, we gave the prototype to our company president, and he claims admiring women adore the shirt whenever he wears it. We believe him. The poly microfibre has a drape just like silk, but with an incredible, soft peach-skin finish that just demands to be touched. It’s also an excellent travel fabric. It packs flat, works well under a jacket, and sheds wrinkles so easily that it will come out of the dryer without needing any ironing.”

One criticism: The copy could actually be more U.K.-specific, noted one panelist.

The site is “very similar to its U.S. cousin, but lacks some of the selling propositions and calls to action resident on the U.S. site,” pointed out a judge. “Having spent time in England, I would have a fairly high confidence level that this is because the British are more sensitive to ‘being sold.’ Therefore, I would not expect the same level of promotional effort on this site — the people in the target market probably just want an efficient and elegant shopping experience.”

Along the same lines, a panelist added, the Orvis U.K. site lacks the customer reviews and recommendations of the U.S. version. “But otherwise the merchandising is similar — which is to say, very good to excellent,” the judge said. “Cross-sells are weaker on the U.K. site, possibly because there are fewer accessories in the product lineup.” For example, the site doesn’t show belts as a cross-sell for men’s trousers.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The site’s navigation was a weak spot. “The search function needs a lot of work,” said one judge, “and the site speed could be better.” What’s more, the panelist complained that the Live Chat function didn’t seem to work, “and I tried more than once.”
— MD

Creative director: Jason Tors
Marketing director: Brad Wolansky
Website designer: John Stalcup
Merchandiser: Patrick Livingston, Dawn Fisher
Copywriter: Kimberly Bellamy, Tim Bronson, Lucinda Heuschkel, Eric Rickstad

New Catalog

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Tahitian Noni International | Fall/Holiday 2006
You may not be familiar with Tahitian Noni International, and you may never have heard of the noni plant. The company was founded in 1996 to sell juice made from noni — an antioxidant rich, natural resource that’s been keeping Polynesians healthy and vital for centuries. Provo, UT-based Tahitian Noni International launched a catalog last year, and it’s taking home the Silver Award for its first print book effort.

Why it won a Silver Award
As you might expect with a new catalog selling an unfamiliar product, Tahitian Noni has to spend a fair amount of time explaining its core line of nutritional beverages. The catalog masterfully describes how it assures and maintains the quality of its signature juice: Certified workers monitor harvesting of the noni fruit, which grows in shady forests as well as on open rocky or sandy shores in French Polynesia, up through the proprietary blending process. The company’s juice recipe includes a secret blend of noni, grape, and blueberry juices that provide antioxidant benefits along with a fruity flavor.

To further create a thirst for its merchandise, catalog testimonials from ordinary people to celebrities enhance the brand’s credibility. The book’s copy earned high marks as well. “Copy invites the reader to learn more about the product,” said one judge. Another panelist thought that the product copy is well written, and the fact that the testimonials are sprinkled throughout the catalog further supports the selling copy.

Particularly for a first-time book, “the photography is good,” said one judge. Another panelist referred to the front and back covers as creating visuals that “entice the reader to open the book and read about the product.”

And when it comes to merchandising, Tahitian Noni is no one-trick pony. Besides its original juice, the catalog sells dietary supplements, skin creams, protein drinks, and noni leaf teas. One judge summarized: “One basic product can expand into a multitude of product offerings.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Despite the book’s solid effort for a first-time cataloger, the judging panel had a few critiques: “Oddly, the back cover is the stronger of the two [covers]. There is a lot of emphasis on lifestyle shots and style, but not on the product, and I think that is a mistake,” observed one panelist.

Tahitian Noni also needs to make it easier for customers to shop, another judge said. The three pricing columns “are very confusing. It is only explained on page 20. This is not a great sales concept. Valid testimonials and facts should’ve been up front so customers can understand the concept before venturing through the catalog.”
— JT

Directors: Lois Boyle, Matthew Fey
Designer/creative director: Brent Niemuth
Marketing director/list manager: George Hague
Print/production director: Angie McClure
Copywriter: Pat Friesen
Photographer/illustrator: Jim Bowie Photography
Printer: Arandell
Color separator/prepress: Cenveo Colorhouse
Consultant: J. Schmid & Assoc.
Cover/text paper: 80 lb., Productolith matte text, grade 2
Trim size: 9″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 40

New Website

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

Chimp Feet | www.chimpfeet.com
With a name like Chimpfeet, the site had better be good. And this new Website of “gifts for pets and the people they love” is better than good; it’s a Silver Award winner. FYI, the name doesn’t refer to slippers for monkeys; rather, “chimpfeet” is a nickname of company cofounder Nicky Homer. (Her husband gave her the moniker a few years ago because of the slapping noise her feet made when she walked across a tiled floor.) Now that we have that mystery cleared up, let’s learn more about this site.

Why it won a Silver Award
For a little site “with a teensy budget, they are doing a lot of the right things,” said one judge. The home page employs “good visuals, with a solid attempt at navigation.” The calls to action on the home page are plentiful, noted another panelist, “and they are tastefully done and appropriate for the target market.” The functionality is “very, very good for a start-up business,” added the same judge: “They have clearly done their homework.”

In the merchandising department, “they have a good selection and it’s surprisingly well organized,” marveled one judge. If you love dogs, how about some canine-themed tableware? If you’re crazy about cats, perhaps a “Got Tuna?” feeding mat would brighten your day. Fish and bird lovers and pets are also represented at Chimpfeet.com, plus you can shop by breed or by brand. The site also has suggested cross-sells and displays recently viewed items.

Chimpfeet “did a nice job with the photography,” said one judge. “The images are well optimized for the Web — and the large-size pictures are great.” Another panelist noted, “Larger images are appropriate resolution and product pages are well organized.” Copy is light-hearted and fun, the judge said, “which is exactly what you’d expect from a site like this.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Chimpfeet needs to step up its customer service levels. “The first page of the checkout is overwhelming — lots of text and too many instructions,” said one judge. “They should do something to make this more aesthetically pleasing.” The site should also promote its policies better, said another panelist. “As a shopper, I would not have been aware of the majority [of the policies] until I was in the checkout process.”
— MD

Creative director, marketing director, Webmaster: Tim Homer
Merchandiser/copywriter/photographer/illustrator: Nicky Homer

Office Supplies, Furniture, and Stationery

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

Raymond Geddes & Co. | 2006-2007 Master Catalog, August 2006
The August 2006-July 2007 issue of school supplier’s Raymond Geddes is jam-packed with merchandise and great ideas for back to school. Beginning with the front cover, clearly, with its colorful presentation of pens, grips, tools and art supplies, “the product is the hero,” says one judge. “Colors work because of the product.”

Why it won a Gold Award
Judges raved about the merchandise selection and overall look. “This catalog is a real grabber. It begs to be flipped through,” said one judge And the bright product presentation helps give the catalog a lot of pizzazz.” From a merchandising standpoint, judges also gave the Geddes catalog props for the first 11 pages of exclusive items, “which cements their authority.”

Raymond Geddes realizes the value of customer service. As one judge remarked, “This is great customer service, right down to the note about no minimum purchase required.” In particular, the marketer’s ordering devices were well done, according to judges. “They’re located in the right place in the book. The company’s “Easy at Geddes” tagline certainly practices what it preaches.

Although Geddes uses copy sparingly, it’s effective. ‘This is the most minimal copy I’ve ever seen, but it works,” said one judge. The book does a good job explaining why customers should buy Geddes products. A copy block explains that the catalogers’ erasers “remain pliant over time, leaving minimal crumbs and doesn’t cause excessive wear.”

Geddes produced a Gold Award winner by going to school on the details and anticipating their customers’ needs. This catalog solves more problems than a math student.

Idea to steal
Start a membership club. By taking a page from Geddes “Get More” loyalty program, you’ll get your customers involved and derive additional sales from it as well. Here’s how it works: Geddes club members spending $350 a quarter receive $25 off their next order. “This is interesting,” remarked one judge. “Customers get to track how much they’re spending — and how many ‘free’ dollars they’re accruing.”
— MDF

Director/marketing director/merchandiser: Laura Bruck
Designer/photographer/illustrator: Becky Ashway
Creative director/print and production director: Dawn Prater
Copywriter: Shauna Kelly, Scott Melshenker
Printer/prepress: Banta
List manager/broker: MCH
Cover paper: 65 lb., Orion web gloss cover stock
Text paper: 50 lb., BPG, #5 web gloss
Trim size: 7-1/2″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 124

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Office Depot | The Green Book, September 2006-July 2007
It’s not easy being green if you listen to Kermit the Frog. But Office Depot makes it look easy. The office products marketer deftly demonstrates its ability to be a good corporate citizen by unveiling a stellar edition of its Green Book selling earth-friendly products such as biodegradable packing peanuts and energy efficient light bulbs. “This book does a great job at presenting a total green picture,” says one judge.

Why it won a Silver Award
Office Depot recognizes that the demand for green business solutions is increasing. Businesses want broader assortments of earth-friendly office products and recycling services. And “Office Depot has done a great job at tying in green products to the green marketing concept,” said a judge.

With Office Depot’s more than 1,000 environmentally safe products, judges remarked that its merchandise selection was “outstanding.” One panelist said that, “there’s good depth and selection, especially for a catalog of 124 pages.”

The company’s editorial treatment of green educational material and information helps it stay true to the mission. There are tips on how-to to make your operations more efficient and cost-effective; how to reduce the impact of your operations on the environment; and how to help reduce the demand for virgin materials used in the production of office supplies.

The fact that the catalog’s paper choice was driven by the green concept was an appropriate touch, said one panelist. Remarked another judge, “Nice production values for a book on recycled matte paper.”

The book’s creative drew high marks as well: Judges agreed that it is well organized and color coded. Much of the copy is designed to show customers how committed the company is to the environment. Another judge praised the catalog’s “highly distinctive positioning as being environmentally friendly.” That message relates to the company and the products. Judges especially liked the spreads addressing green products and solutions.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The judges had several customer service quibbles with this catalog. For starters, the company’s shipping and handling policies were not clear. “The company seems to miss an opportunity because the multichannel store locator is missing. There’s not even a Website to find them.” Another judge added that “There’s not a single place to find a satisfactory guarantee in the catalog.” And while free next-day business delivery (in local delivery areas) is a strong motivator, “what are the local delivery areas?” asked one judge. It would also help if Office Depot had some sort of an index in the book.
— MDF

Vice president, creative: Steve Gniadecki
Designer: Sandra Strasser, David Doan
Creative director: Suzy Campbell
Marketing directors: Dean Jackson, Lynne Hopkins
Print/production director: Peggy Regan
Merchandiser: Mitch Salley
Copywriter: Ben Lippel
Environmental advisor: Yalmaz Siddiqui
Photographer/illustrator: KSC Studios
Printer: R.R. Donnelley
Cover paper: 80 lb., text environment, Neenah
Text paper: 24 lb., text environment, Neenah & Enviro 100, Cascades
Trim size: 7-15/16″ × 10-1/2″
Number of pages: 124

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

Levenger | www.levenger.com
Levenger’s tagline “tools for serious readers,” combined with the product shots on its home page “make it no guess as to what they sell,” said one judge. From pens to pads, briefcases to bookends, and lighting to lap desks, Levenger carries anything a serious reader could think of. And the site does a great job of selling such items. “Promotions are shown very large on the home page, and the site makes use of upselling nicely,” a judge said.

Why it won a Silver Award
“Very nice navigation, with user-friendly upselling and personalization options make this site a pleasure to navigate,” a panelist commented. “Product pages contain images, zoom capabilities of images, customer reviews — a plethora of tools for the customer to use.”

Said another judge: “Merchandising is completely consistent with the category, tagline, and the implicit promise of the home page.”

Technically speaking, “the home page is fast-loading and visually pleasing,” a panelist noted. Along with the HTML text-based primary navigation, “it’s a good example of what can be accomplished with CSS-based design.” The search function performs well with results broken down by category, product, and price, said a judge. “Cross-selling is very appropriate and carried through all levels of product selection.” What’s more, said another panelist, the search function never yields a null result and provided related links on occasion. “Reasonable misspellings were handled well,” the judge said, “and error messages were clear and friendly.”

And by promoting its guarantee constantly, “Levenger’s commitment is seen on every product page in a way that is not overbearing on the Website’s overall design and navigation,” a judge said.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The use of graphical text in the featured products text is “a deviation from best practices,” said one judge. “It limits accessibility as well as visibility in natural search. The same effect could easily be achieved with appropriately styled HTML text.” — MD

Marketing director: Lynnette Montgomery
Webmasters: Paul Picard, Yan Gu
Website designer: Alex Sender
Merchandiser: Jim Murphy
Photographer/illustrators: Howard Gale, Judy Gale
Consultant: Fry

Retail Traffic Driver

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Relax the Back | Holiday 2006
If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from back pain, you’re probably familiar with Relax the Back. And if you’re not familiar, your spine might appreciate it if you look the company up.

Having grown out of the company’s store it opened in 1984, Relax The Back’s catalog sells posture and back support products and self-care solutions to people seeking relief and prevention of back and neck pain.

Why it won a Silver Award
“The front cover is very engaging,” says one judge. The laser focus on products relieving back pain is wonderful,” as are the shots of people using the product. “It’s very effective.”

“I found this catalog to be well done,” said a judge. In perhaps the ultimate compliment, the panelist added that “I found myself wanting to seek out one of the stores to purchase one of these products.”

There’s good follow-through once you get beyond the catalog’s cover. From special mattresses to ergonomic chairs, the merchandise offering is “surprisingly good and broad for a niche market,” a member of the panel commented.

The overall copy is effective, following the classic feature/benefit style. “The explanation of the benefits of massage chairs is excellent,” said one judge. “But the headlines need improving, and they could help initiate a “gift” purchase since this is for the holidays,” says one judge.

A second judge commented, “the casualness of the type treatment is a bit incongruent for the price point, but it does lend a bit of easiness to the shopping experience.”

Judges lauded Relax the Back’s use of illustration to convey the message. “The message technology illustrations are exceedingly helpful in describing the chair action the customer can expect,” a judge said.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Relax the Back’s back cover offers inexpensive products ancillary to the core product in the catalog, which are massage chairs, ergonomic office chairs and beds. “It’s not what conveys the brand,” one judge said. “They should have a chair on the back. Selling a $40 product on the back cover makes no sense.”

Another judge noted that the company’s disclaimer about product availability on the page footer is a real turn-off. “It is the anti-store driver. Items that are not available in stores should be marked as such.”
— MDF

Director: Leanne Mattes
Designer/creative director: David Ensz
Marketing director/list manager: Ty Manion
Print/production directors: Philip Korn, Lori Andrews
Merchandiser: J.D. Nespoli
Copywriter: Wayne Fauber
Photographer/illustrator: Joe Carlson Studios
Printer/color separator/prepress: Times Printing
List brokers: Abacus, I-Behavior, Next Action, Claritas
Cover paper: 60 lb., Influence, Verso Paper
Text paper: 50 lb., Liberty, Verso Paper
Trim size: 8-3/8″ × 10-7/8″
Number of pages: 40

Small Catalog

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Action Bag Co. | Holiday 2006
Action Bag may be a business-to-business cataloger targeting female-focused beauty businesses, but by carefully choosing colors and using large product images, it succeeds in making this book feel like it’s made for a typical consumer. “I think the consumer feel of the catalog seems right for image-conscious customers,” one judge commented. And by offering breast cancer and heart health awareness specialty items, it further “conveys the impression that this cataloger is up to date on current trends that can help its customers.”

Why it won a Silver Award
Inside, Action Bag demonstrates that it understands its niche product by encompassing the scope of merchandise available — offering everything from paper and plastic bags, to gift baskets, to ribbon, to tissue paper, to display cases. Additionally, judges liked the amount of new and exclusive items the marketer offered, noting that it helps position Action Bag as a “one-stop shop for packaging promotions.

Benefit-driven copy targeted to beauty businesses is “clear” and “descriptive.” For example, product copy for the exclusive Awareness Tissue Paper reads: “Perfect accent for great causes! Choose from pink ribbon or red dress tissue. Add to any bag or gift set to create instant awareness. Small packs make it easy to use in any awareness program.”

“This catalog makes plastic bags seem chic,” said one panelist.” It does a good job of making packaging look attractive and even upscale for companies in the beauty business.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Judges pointed out that although product shots were bold and beautiful, many spreads were cluttered with too many images. For example, one photo picture shows a selection of gift boxes. With 10 boxes, three spools of ribbon, additional “staging” products, tissue paper, and bows all in the same shot, matching product to item number is difficult.

Copy can be difficult to read when placed over an image or when it is too similar to surrounding copy. “Catalog design 101 is not being done,” said a judge.
— HR

Director/marketing director/print and production director/merchandiser: Jaimey Alumbaugh
Designer: Heidi Fornalsky
Creative director: Carol Worthington Levy
Copywriter: Carol Worthingon Levy
Photographer/illustrator: Chris Roche, Kris Knight
Printer: Quebecor World, Dallas
Color separator/prepress: Quebecor World Premedia
List manager/broker/consultant: Lenser
Cover paper: 70 lb., #3 Influence gloss
Text paper: 45 lb., #3 Bowmax 84 gloss
Trim size: 8-3/8″ × 10-7/8″
Number of pages: 76

Small Web Merchant

GOLD: WEB CHANNEL

Sea Bear | www.seabear.com
How inviting is SeaBear Wild Salmon’s Website? Let’s just say that members of our judging panel were tempted to order lobster bisque, salmon fillets, and other mouth-watering items on the spot. Judges were impressed that an online merchant was able to sell a unique food like salmon in a friendly, trustworthy, and efficient manner.

Why it won a Gold Award
The home page itself was appealing to the judges, with a great design that carried throughout the site. “It clearly lays out what their product selection is, and shows they know what they are doing,” a panelist said. “The food images look fantastic and are presented well.”

Strong, enticing images, such as a shot of a fresh reef net sockeye salmon fillet on a cedar plank, lure the visitor in to the world of seafood. Moreover, the site introduces customers to SeaBear CEO Mike Mondello, who even offers his e-mail address so customers can comment to him directly. That, a judge said, shows a sign of solid service from a company that seems like it really cares about the customer experience.

“The guarantee was well stated and has the added personal touch coming from the company’s president, complete with his picture and signature,” a panelist said.

The copy excels in its considerable depth of information and sales orientation. In addition to the basic merchandise copy, the site also provides item-specific shipping details, storage requirements, nutrition, and how-to preparation guides. “The content is incredibly helpful in answering questions customers may have when trying to make their buying decision,” a judge said.

Navigation takes into account not just how to find products, but who you are buying for. The header navigation is segmented into three types of customers:those searching for a gift, people preparing to entertain family and friends, and those interested in healthy dining. The left sidebar navigation is about finding products by type.

Idea to steal
Savvy sites know how to provide a lot of information, but still keep the look clean. SeaBear incorporates tabs on the product pages to keep nutrition, serving, and storage information in one tight little space. This is “a great way to present additional selling info in a clean, crisp manner,” one of the judges noted.
— TP

Creative director/Website designer: Kim Messing (Tellus)
Vice president marketing/merchandiser: Patti Fisher
Webmaster: Amanda Hubik
Consultant: Tellus

SILVER: WEB CHANNEL

Nourse Farms | www.noursefarms.com
Nourse Farms is berry, berry, good at selling, well, berry plants. The site has nearly every type of berry plant imaginable, from blackberries and blueberries to currants and gooseberries, as well as items such as asparagus and horseradish plants. Despite the modern sales medium, Nourse Farms gives customers such confidence in service that it’s almost like buying from a family farm stand.

Why it won a Silver Award
The home page clearly explains what Nourse Farms does, what types of plants it sells, and that it caters to both home gardeners and commercial growers. “The design is simple, friendly, and easy on the eyes,” said a judge. The home page also includes a “nice letter from the founder that does not detract from the merchandising message or selling space,” added another panelist.

The product images on Nourse Farms’ home and landing pages are crisp, bright, and appealing to the eye. Easy-to-use and read comparison charts are provided within each berry type to help the customers select which plants best meets their needs and skill levels. “The comparison chart is well done in terms of readability and the level of detailed information provided for each item,” pointed out one judge.

For example, the chart shows 10 types of red raspberries, the texture, the flavor, freezing quality and, equally important for the grower, a zone chart explaining the hardiness of the berry plants for various U.S. regions.

Judges were also impressed with some of the product pages, which offered related items such as books, fertilizers, and plant foods as add-ons.

And its service is stellar. “Love the virtual tour of their facilities,” noted one panelist. “It gives you a more secure feel about ordering. You get the impression of a true family business, and they even invite customers to their farm!”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Judges marked the site down because the implementation does not allow for a seamless transaction. Users can’t add the suggested items to the cart with the main item. Instead, the user must go back and search for the related item after adding the mail item to the cart.

Related items also were not consistently attached to relevant products. For example, plant food wasn’t attached to all applicable products, and some items had no related products at all.

And the panel felt that Nourse Farms’ copy could be a bit better. “The copy seemed too dry and basic with no real sales copy or benefits being presented,” a judge said. “It is informative and detailed, but is too often put into a single large paragraph, rather than breaking it apart or using bullets to improve readability.”
— TP

Creative director: Kim Messing (Tellus)
Webmaster: Mary McNerny
Website designer/consultant: Tellus

Spin-off

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Patagonia | Patagonia Surf 2006
Surf is most definitely up for this Patagonia spin-off title. As you would expect from the manufacturer/marketer of outdoor apparel — and any mailer trying to capture the excitement of the sport — image is everything. Vivid photography helps sell surfing clothing and gear, such as $45 Wavefarer board shorts, a $75 10-ft. surfboard bag, and a $190 lightweight R4 jacket. The judges agreed that Patagonia is “hanging 10” with this effort, and awarded the new catalog the Silver. Cowabunga!

Why it won a Silver Award
In a word, the cover is “compelling,” said one judge. The progressive four-box photo sequence showing a surfer in action draws you in to the book. Not only are there “great images” on the cover, according to another panelist, but Patagonia makes “good use of paper.” On the second page is a sort of family history complete with surfing photos and a 1965 family picture.

Copy and merchandising earned high marks from the judges as well. “Engaging use of stories and products,” said one panelist. “The large headlines for non-product stories are a great testament to their focus.”

For an example of the prose, here’s the copy for a pair of Low-Impact Board Shorts: “We work every day to build the best products while causing no unnecessary harm. Our latest take on the surf trunk, a board short made from recycled plastic bottles, serves as an example of the durable and free-moving Minimalist board shorts, made from PCR (post-consumer recycled) polyester. To date, Patagonia has kept 98 million plastic bottles from entering the wastestream by making products out of PCR polyester.”

That’s not to say that Patagonia doesn’t provide details and benefits. The description for the Shroomed Logo T-Shirt: “Geoff McFetridge art on soft-wearing ringspun organic cotton, with taped shoulder seams and our updated fit, featuring a pulled-in silhouette, lower collar, and shorter sleeves. Imported.”

One judge appreciated the company’s heavy focus on the all-important target customer: the surfer. “They do it in such a dramatic way that it separates itself,” the judge said.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
With such an emphasis on large, dramatic surfing shots, less space was available for products, something not lost on the judges. “Needs better detail,” said one judge. Another judge labeled the front and back covers “dysfunctional.” And in the last quarter of the the Surf catalog, most of the female models are pictured only from the neck down, a creative technique that didn’t sit well with at least one judge. “I have a thing about decapitated models,” the panelist said.
— JT

Designer: Annette Scheid
Photo editor: Tim Davis
Product photography: Jim Arneson
Photography art director: Billie Jan Houston
Managing copy editor: Alyssa Firmin
Production manager: Lisa Sander
Creative director: Chris Malloy
Marketing director: Rob BonDurant
Merchandisers: Kevin Churchill, Carrie Randolph
Director of direct mail: Morlee Griswold
Circulation manager: Ken Storey
Database provider: Abacus
Printer: Arandell Corp.
Separator: Schawk
Paper broker: Strategic Paper Group
Cover paper: 100 lb., grade #1, Monadock Astrolite PC100, 100% post-consumer waste
Text paper: 45 lb., grade #4, Stora Enso Polaris press, 40% post-consumer waste
Trim size: 10-7/8″ × 8-1/2″
Number of pages: 44

Sporting Goods

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

L.L. Bean | Hunting, Fall 2006
On the hunt for hunting products? Everything you could possibly need is likely to be within the 92 pages of L.L. Bean’s fall hunting catalog. Judges applauded this iconic brand’s ability to cover all the bases in this book, from product photography to exceptional copy to solid merchandising to stellar marketing. “If you hunt, you will buy from this catalog,” said one judge.

Why it won a Silver Award
This comprehensive catalog includes a perfect product offering for the hunter; the only thing it it doesn’t seem to carry is guns. “Wide selection of everything except guns,” said another panelist. “How to shop on page 2 is nicely done.”

Products include boots, parkas, vests, backpacks, a variety of Gore-Tex outerwear, down jackets, hats, gloves, rainwear, camouflage apparel, binoculars, and rifle scopes. “Great merchandise, solid creative, and branding,” said one judge.

And panelists touted the catalog copy as well. “Excellent execution,” one judge said, while another added: “Time tested.” Still, one more compliment: “Copy is best in the business. Hard to give any negatives because the brand is so strong.” As an example, the copy for the Summit Viper SS Climbing Stand begins: “SilentGlide cable technology is virtually silent and attaches quickly and easily to a tree. Simply slide the rubber-coated cable into the frame and climb. Use the wraparound padded bar as a gun rest or position the seat high and use for stability while drawing a bow. Easy-to-apply Summit Skin, a sound-dampening laminate, is included to make the stand more quiet when you’re packing into the woods …”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The front cover art, an illustration of two deer leaping over a stone wall in the woods, “seems a bit delicate compared to the product,” one judge said. The overal design needs some work: “The spreads have a randomness to the position of the copy blocks, said one judge. “It seems like a grid isn’t established.”
— JT

Senior vice president, creative: Don Oakes
Designer/photo director: Leslie Wagner
Creative directors: Jim Hauptman, Marcia Minter
Marketing director: Steve Fuller
Print/production director: Jason Kendeigh
Merchandiser: Wendy Keith-Hardy
Copywriter: Debra Carr-Brox
Printer: Quebecor World
Color separator/prepress: Vertis
Cover paper: 60 lb., Verso Velocity, #3 freesheet
Text paper: 38 lb., Verso Advocate, #5 groundwood
Trim size: 8″ × 10″
Number of pages: 92

Syndicated/Co-op

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

Catalyst Communication | Black Creek Outfitters, Spring/Summer 2006
By combining a deep merchandise assortment and a boatload of product knowledge, Black Creek Outfitters is the outdoor enthusiast’s best friend. Or to be more accurate, it’s the outdoor products retailer’s best friend.

Why it won a Gold Award
Judges awarded Black Creek Outfitters high marks for copy that resonates as the voice of the traveler/adventurer. In describing a pair of $220 hiking boots, the headline copy begins “Durable enough to support 30-plus pound packs, but light enough to keep you going mile after mile.”

Clearly, the copy is geared toward a customer. The copy is brief where it needs to be and lengthy where it benefits the customer. The judges liked the use of callouts and the benefit-laden text such as “Duralite polyethylene makes the boat 20% lighter.”

As a syndicated book for retailers, the catalog’s mission is to drive customers to the store, and “they do an excellent job of creating the desire,” remarks a judge. The staff is experienced and talented in their respective fields and are willing to share their knowledge.” The 10%-20% coupons redeemable at the store, online and via the telephone, tie in all the channels.

Because the catalog is a store traffic piece, “the back cover’s focus is more on identifying how to get to the store and the benefits of the brand, as opposed to actually selling an item,” declared another judge, “That logic serves them well.”

The sidebars offer additional information about national parks to visit. The editorials are interesting and provide the appropriate setting for the catalog. Merchandise reflects the marketer’s passion, remarked one judge. “You can tell they love this. It’s a nice mix geared to the outdoor enthusiast.”

From a production standpoint, Black Creek uses graphics and charts to help customers understand products and make better choices. “They take the love of individual travel and adventure and present it on the page,” said one panelist.

Idea to Steal
Whether you have three retail locations or 30, creating reasons to shop at the stores doesn’t have to be pushy or an added step in the buying process. Black Creek’s back cover highlights a series of events for the weekend warrior: a 50-mile trail run, a demonstration on how to perfect your kayaking technique, as well as information about an upcoming fishing tournament. “The catalog helps the reader formulate an opinion that they need to stop by to shop and learn from the experts.”
— MDF

Designers: Diane French, Kristal Boni
Creative director: Leslie Bohm
Marketing director: Greg Mears
Print/production director: Theresa Regnier
Copywriter: Diane French
Photographer/illustrator: Muench Photography
Printer: Times Printing
List manager: Billy Edwards
List broker: Chilcutt Direct Marketing
Cover paper: 80 lb., Productolith dull
Text paper: 70 lb., Productolith dull
Trim size: 9″ × 9-1/4″
Number of pages: 20

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

BMW | 2006 BMW Guide
Few things in life are more exhilarating than riding through the open spaces with the wind ripping through your hair — especially if you’re atop a BMW touring motorcycle. By combining plenty of attitude, tight pagination, and a deep product assortment, The 2006 BMW Guide demonstrates its authority in the automotive accessories marketplace.

Why it won a Silver Award
BMW realizes that multichannel customers are more valuable than single channel customers. That’s why it’s inserted coupons to motivate the customer to come into the store. A useful map for customers also “makes it simple to plan a trip to the store,” says one judge. “It’s very clean and easy to shop.”

At the outset, BMW sets the mood using aspirational photography. “The front cover images are engaging and appealing to both men and women, giving the feeling of adventure,” said one judge.

BMW uses creative to draw in the motorbike enthusiast. Headlines at the top of each page, such as “Add Pavement, Gravel and Dirt. Stir for Days,” demonstrate the marketer’s ability to grab the reader. One judge thought the marketer wandered a bit too far afield, though: “Some of the text meanders more than necessary and tries too hard to be cool.”

Judges praised BMW’s editorial efforts to explain key benefits of its high-end motorcycles. For example, BMW takes pains to instruct riders on the art of plugging a tubeless tire: “Using an auger or your plugging tool (the screw driver-like thing with the split end), ream out the inside of the hole, Thread the plug into the plugging tool. Coat the plug and hole with rubber cement. Push the plug into the hole, hold it there for a minute, then pull the tool out. Let the glue bond for 15 minutes, then inflate your tire …”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
Judges thought an opportunity was wasted on the back cover. “The back cover needs to work harder,” said the judge, who explained that perhaps BMW could feature one of its high-end $15,000 motorcycles on the back cover. Instead, a grainy, black-and-white image of a gathering of tour bikers on the left corner “is barely visible.”

Several judges remarked that the catalog didn’t convey the BMW brand’s value. “The name BMW is integral to the products, but never elaborated on in the editorials, which is a missed opportunity,” said one panelist.
— MDF

Director/creative director: Sasha Halenda
Designer: Lucas Deckinga
Marketing director: Pete Swenson
Print/production director: Judy Freeman
Copywriter: Lee McCormick
Printer: Royle Printing
List manager/broker:
Robert Shires
Cover/text paper: 80 lb., Influence gloss book weight Trim size: 9″ × 10-3/4″
Number of pages: 16

SILVER: PRINT CHANNEL

Tessco Technologies | The Wireless, Guide, Volume 24
At more than 1,600 pages, the Wireless Guide from Tessco is not just a reference tool, it’s a weapon. But for the professional who builds, designs, and maintains wireless technologies, Tessco is no doubt the industry bible.

Why it won a Silver Award
The front and back covers use white space for a clean, modern look. But the real payoff begins when you open the book. As one judge said, the first few pages “are exceedingly well done” with indexes, information on selecting products, and where to find “how-to” advice from wireless experts.

“The opening section pages have interesting facts, how-to information and education on the industry,” noted a panelist. “This is well done.”

Since the catalog is two inches thick, navigation is crucial. And that’s where Tessco scores. “The importance of navigating through this warehouse on paper is recognized with the tabbed sections and different types of indexes,” explained a judge.

Page after page painstakingly details Tessco’s wide selection of products such as base antennas, transmission line, and site hardware — complete with a comprehensive list of specifications and product features. And since today’s customers are concerned about shipping and handling charges, Tessco carefully lists the product’s weight in the copy so there are no surprises at checkout.

Tessco offers wireless professionals such as site managers, field engineers, and installers continuing education and certification courses on topics like data networking, fiber optic networking and radio frequency. “Offering the training classes is a wonderful differentiator and reinforces Tessco’s position as a leader in the industry,” said one judge.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award
The cataloger could make it easier for customers to shop, remarked more than one panelist. “The product names were the same color as the icons for new products, which reduced ease of shopping,” said one panelist. And Tessco’s font point size is often in ‘mice type,’” said yet another judge, which is difficult to read. The judges also gave Tessco low marks for not making proper use of the traditional catalog hot spots, such as the front and back cover.
— MDF

Marketing director: Steven Lehukey
Cover paper: 12 pt. C2S, #3, Kruger
Text paper: 30 lb., Krukote #5
Trim size: 8-3/8″ × 10-7/8″
Number of pages: 1,610

Wholesale

GOLD: PRINT CHANNEL

Jackson & Perkins | Roses for 2007
According to the catalog cover, Sheer Magic — a stunning coral-colored hybrid tea rose — is Jackson & Perkins’ 2007 rose of the year. “Sheer magic” might also describe the company’s unique ability to deliver one award winning wholesale catalog after another.

Why it won a Gold Award
Jackson & Perkins’ catalog educates the wholesaler on the variety of roses it offers, providing the resellers with the information they need to pass on to those who shop their stores. “Jackson & Perkins is roses, and this catalog is roses!” exclaimed one judge. “The paper quality, photography, selling text, and brand positioning all come together to make this catalog outstanding.” From the front cover to back, the book “highlights everything they are.”

The opening spread describes the different types of roses it sells. For example, copy describing the Mister Lincoln hybrid rose begins, “Large, long-lasting buds, voluptuous ruffled blooms of glowing red, plus an intoxicating rose perfume make this one of the most highly regarded hybrid teas of all time.” One can almost smell the the heady blooms just from the copy.

That’s not to say the descriptions are only about romancing the rose. The copy points help inform the reader about the roses, the benefits of certain varieties, and how best to grow the flowers. Beneath each description, for example, is an easy-to-follow list of key product descriptions such as color, height, petal count, and fragrance. Jackson & Perkins also boasts an “Ask the Experts” column complete with contact information. “Just brilliant,” exclaimed one judge.

Idea to Steal
Whether you sell gifts, apparel, or even roses, deciding on the precise product density on the page is a frequent marketing conundrum. But Jackson & Perkins nails it: Even with six or more items per page, there’s no problem for customers in identifying text and product alignment. As one judge explains: “Although there’s a lot of product presented, enough space is allocated so that there’s a feeling that everything is shown well and explained in copy.”
— MDF

Director: Estin B. Kiger
Designers: Randy Elwood, Steven Burns, Daena Tougher
Creative director: Neal Schuler
Marketing director: Charlie Anderson
Print/production director: Jack Kobinsky
Merchandiser: Denise Tedaldi
Copywriter: Jill Thacker
Photographer/illustrators: Ron Anderson, Rob Rebman
Printer: CDS Publications
Color separator/prepress: Schawk
List manager/broker: American List Counsel
Cover paper: 80 lb., Pacesetter gloss cover
Text paper: 70 lb., Pacesetter gloss book
Trim size: 8-1/2″ × 11″
Number of pages: 72

Company information for each profile has been provided by the Award entrants. For information about entering next year’s Awards, contact Mark Del Franco at 203-358-4376 or mark.delfranco@penton.com.

More 2007 MCM Awards

2007 Judges

2007 Finalists