Apparel, Silver Award: Freeport Studio, September 2000

Its tagline is “a cut above casual,” and the Silver Award-winning women’s clothing catalog Freeport Studio is indeed a cut above the rest. A spin-off from catalog institution L.L. Bean, Freeport Studio is “clearly defined as an extension of the core brand — but with more style,” said one judge.

Merchandising is the book’s strong suit, with a unified and comprehensive selection of relaxed and comfortable-looking clothing for the office and weekends, said a judge. “If you want these kinds of clothes, you can buy an entire wardrobe out of this catalog!” Freeport Studio effectively cross-merchandises categories to create a complete look, agreed another panelist.

In fact, the merchandise is far more upscale and professional than the cover photo — a close-up of a sweater-clad woman and her child — indicates. This could pose a problem with prospecting, according to a few of the judges. “The cover suggests clothes for mom and for kids — not clothing for professional women,” said one.

Inside the catalog, however, design, production, and copy are right on target for the merchandise and the audience. “Photography is excellent, with good use of lifestyle settings,” said one judge. The lifestyle shots flatter the product and display the construction details, added another judge, who also remarked on the effective spread layouts and pacing. The copy is solid and not too flashy, while headlines and captions are benefit-driven and to the point. For example, one caption with the headline “30-second dressing” reads: “Sure bets. It’s what you need in the morning. The suit that never wrinkles. The dress that slips on in seconds. Guaranteed to look good — day in, day out. Everything should be this simple.” But one panelist remarked that the president’s letter is “a little weak,” not to mention too short. Another judge agreed; the president’s letter or institutional copy on the catalog’s opening spread “could be worked into a stronger establishment of the brand.”

Freeport Studio boasts the same exceptional customer service policies and guarantees as parent L.L. Bean. One problem, however: It doesn’t boast quite enough as a stand-alone title. For instance, the catalog buries its guarantee on the order form, and although it lists its toll-free number frequently, the type is small. “If this weren’t L.L. Bean, I wouldn’t know its high level of service,” said one judge. “It seems a weakness to deemphasize what most know to be great service.”

But all in all, Freeport Studio’s strengths far outweigh any weaknesses. From design to copy to service, this book is a true winner — particularly on the merchandising front, noted a judge. “The comprehensive product line is special — and typical of L.L. Bean, which is driven by merchandising professionals above all else.”

Freeport Studio
L.L. Bean
Casco Street
Freeport, ME 04033
207-552-2730
www.llbean.com
Company founded: 1912
Catalog launched: 1999
Director: Fran Philip
Creative director: John Schwartz
Designer: Heide Joe
Production manager: Larry Ocamb
Merchandiser: Deborah Snite
Copywriter: Stephanie Silk
Photographer: Brian Nice
Marketing manager: Jill Gravel
Creative consultant: Pluzynski & Associates
Printer/color separator: Quebecor World
List broker: Millard Group
Cover paper 68 lb.
Text paper: 50 lb.
Number of pages: 72
Trim size: 7-15/16″ × 10″

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