These came close

Feb 01, 2009 10:30 PM  By

Healthy Living

Nothing — nothing — about this catalog is a salute to artistry. It’s the way catalogs used to look, with four to six items on each page. What makes it worthy of a salutation? The combination of clarity and benefit. Whoever writes the catalog’s copy is a salesperson, not a word-excreter.

If you see this catalog, don’t look for cleverness. Cleverness isn’t part of the mix. Instead, look for descriptions that have you nodding, “Yes, I understand.” A couple of product headline examples:

  • Get Up Out of Your Recliner Easily

  • Three-Wheel Rollator Goes Where Regular Walkers Can’t!

  • You’ll Never Have to Set This Talking Watch!

  • Make Coloring Your Hair as Easy as Brushing It

How do these prosaic headings warrant an accolade? They pitch benefit, not product name. And yes, I’m swallowing my objection to the unnecessary use of initial caps.

Penzeys Spices

Penzeys’ catalog copy is always professional, and descriptions, while not intended to excite, are product-specific and explicit. What kept Penzey’s out of the top five this year is the occasional nondescript headline such as the one on the inside front cover, “Gift the gift that guarantees everyone on your list the gift of great tasting food.”


I have to include Herrington because of two award-worthy headlines I noticed in a recent catalog: “Meet Runaway, the Alarm Clock That Runs and Hides to Make Sure You Get Out of Bed!” … and “Finally, a Coffee Mug That Not Only Won’t Spill, It Won’t Scald Either — No Matter How Hot the Brew!” Herrington didn’t quite make the top five because of overdependence on words like “Finally,” not because of initial caps.


I’m not much of a lobster lover, but I admire convincing copy. First-person copy often stumbles over its own ego, but copy in this specialty foods catalog rings of enthusiastic sincerity. One glitch: the catalog’s repeated opening questions, some with questionable punctuation: “What’s for dinner, you ask?” … “What’s in a name you ask?” … “What’s not to love about this gourmet dinner?” You get the idea.