Sporting Goods and Hobbies: L.L. Bean and Orvis

GOLD: Catalog Channel

L.L. Bean, Summer Outdoor 2010

How great is the merchandising in this L.L. Bean catalog? “You can outfit most adventures from this catalog without going online,” said one judge. “Of course, they also do a nice job showing you that you can go online and find even more great adventure items.”

WHY IT WON A GOLD AWARD: The book packs huge variety of product, both apparel and nonapparel items. “Almost all is proprietary, which is great, and much of this has unique or unusual features — like the apparel with Sunsmart protection,” said one panelist.

The photography is terrific as well. “The lifestyle shots convey the brand and help sell all the proprietary products,” said a judge. “And the product shots are excellent in showing details — even of hard-to-show black colors.”

Copy is perfect for target audience, and motivates readers to get into the lifestyle or activity. And the clean uncluttered design “manages to look like Bean and still be hip enough for the next generation,” according to one panelist. “I really liked the bold colored type for the headlines” and the callouts that encourage readers to look to the web for more.

IDEA TO STEAL: Here’s how to promote web content consistently: L.L. Bean uses a boxed “Watch the video” icon to call out where online videos are available, which the judges said is both helpful and engaging. — MD

SILVER: Catalog Channel

The Orvis Co., Holiday Sporting Gifts 2010

As one judge said, you don’t really need to hunt or fish to be interested in the merchandise in this Orvis title; you can still enjoy the romance. You can also enjoy the excellent selection of gifts for men across many categories. “Every product speaks to the brand, as well as to the customer,” said a panelist.

WHY IT WON A SILVER AWARD: Rock-solid authenticity is established with the decoy collection sold on the opening spread, noted one judge, “then we move quickly to an easy chair endorsed by the CEO on page 4.” The deeper you get into the center of the book, the judge said, “the tighter the focus on real gear — and that, too, is beautifully displayed.”

Every product shown is carefully tied to the brand and at a certain taste level, said one panelist. “Old-school catalog at its very best.”

A traditional order form has everything shoppers would need or want to know. And the footers call out the guarantee, invite comments, and offer gift boxes and a store locator, said one panelist. The catalog has “an old-fashioned charm, simplicity and honesty that is very appealing.”

Not that Orvis isn’t using new media. “Frequent invitations to see enhanced views or read more with a very specific link go beyond the ubiquitous URL that everyone works into the folio — along with the phone number — and then never thinks about again,” noted one judge. “They are giving the customer the tools to really enjoy their website, not just another way to shop.”

WHY IT DIDN’T WIN A GOLD: Overall, the look is a bit dark and heavy by design, according to one judge. “Better paper would add even more depth and richness.” And where type is placed over color, it is sometimes difficult to read. — MD

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