Arena Rose Co., 1999 Selections

Blanketed with lush red, pink, and yellow roses, “this cover is a winner!” exclaims one judge, describing the Arena Rose Co.’s 1999 Garden Roses of Distinction catalog. And the rest of this Silver Award winner isn’t bad, either.

Pages feature panoramic views of gardens, histories of the varieties of roses, and gorgeous photos of supple, dewy flora. “`Arena Rose keeps the excitement up page after page,” says one judge. “And the pictures of garden botanicals definitely make this book a winner.”

The copy speaks directly to the knowledgeable customer, yet it also educates novice gardeners without condescending. For instance, the description of the Peach Blossom rose reads: “The abundant clusters of blooms look as if they could be formed from translucent scallop shells surrounding beautiful eyes of golden stamens….An upright plant that will benefit from a bit of protection against mildew, Peach Blossom will produce an abundant crop of hips if not pruned back in the late season.” The copy also offers fun facts of interest to all customers: “Peach Blossom was a woodland fairy in Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” According to one judge, “The historical perspective gives a unique touch.”

When it comes to the design and production of the catalog, Arena Rose performed a “topnotch job,” says one panelist. The eye flow of photos and copy is seamless, and the detail of product shots is “breathtaking,” raves another judge. The only complaint is that prices are not shown with the product copy blocks, though the company explains that because it uses the same catalog for consumers and gardening suppliers, it includes either a retail or a wholesale price list with each catalog it mails.

Clearly defined customer service policies draw praise from the panel, however. “It’s important to know exactly what the return policies are with this kind of product, and the copy tells you,” says one judge. “The order form is easy to navigate, and most any question a customer has is covered in it,” says another. But the call center’s limited hours are disconcerting: The cataloger stops answering the phone at 4 P.M. Pacific time. “What are they thinking?” a judge muses.

Still, the combination of beautiful product shots, fluid design, and amiable copy make Garden Roses of Distinction a standout. “This is one catalog that won’t be thrown away,” a panelist concludes.

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