Business Clothing, Silver Award: WearGuard, Fall 2000, Vol. 538

The judges agreed: In its prospecting book Vol. 538, WearGuard displays “features and benefits galore”; “offers some excellent incentives for a first order — and doesn’t bury them!”; and “excels in positioning the products as useful, good value, and of appropriate quality.” So the question isn’t why WearGuard won an Annual Catalog Award, but rather why it won a Silver Award rather than a Gold.

At least one judge felt that “not offering 24-hour phone access, even in this market, is a minus.” What’s more, the order form was deemed serviceable at best. Tucked between pages 34 and 35 of the 52-page catalog, it doesn’t sell products or services — a waste of real estate. Perhaps WearGuard’s gravest sin, however — certainly the one most mentioned by the panelists — is its refusal to regularly repeat its superlative guarantee. The guarantee is played up on page 2: “100% Guarantee — If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, return it. We will refund your money or replace the item. Anytime. For any reason. No questions asked…even if it is screen printed or embroidered!” But then you’re hard-pressed to find the guarantee again.

Those criticisms aside, the panelists raved about WearGuard’s strategies for enticing new customers. The front cover promotes two specials for first-time buyers: a free jacket (worth nearly $70) with a $250 purchase, and discounts of up to 20%. At the same time, the customer testimonials scattered generously throughout serve to reassure prospects as to the credibility of the company.

Then there’s the copy, “which provides enough detail to satisfy a prospect contemplating a first order,” said a judge. Take the beginning of the description of the WearGuard Tailored Work Shirt: “The best of both worlds: classic dress shirt styling with heavy duty made-for-work features. (Solid colors in a full 4.2-oz. fabric; patterns in 3.5-oz.) With sturdy two-piece banded collar for a neat look, and lined placket and cuffs….” Benefit-laden headlines (“Super ProWeight Means Super Warm and Durable!”; “Your Logo and Our All-Cotton T’s…for a Lasting Impression!”) complement the product descriptions by compelling the shopper to “drill deeper” into the page.

Another judge praised out the company’s UniPacks, in which a shirt and pants are bundled together for 20% less than buying the two items separately would cost. “The ensembles are an excellent idea to promote sampling of merchandise,” said the judge. “However, burying them on pages 26-27 and doing little to make them stand out within the catalog is questionable.”

And there we’ve come full circle to what the judges felt was the WearGuard catalog’s biggest flaw: hiding its light (or its UniPacks and guarantee) under a bushel. Modesty may be a smart strategy on a first date or during dinner with the in-laws, but not when it comes to winning over prospects — or winning a Gold Award.

141 Longwater Dr.
Norwell, MA 02061
Company founded: 1952
Creative director: Randall Hicks
Senior art director: Jody Sellers
Art director: John Nogueira
Production manager: Craig Grab
Merchandiser: Dietmar Stapelfeld
Copywriter: Karissa Bibby
Photographer: John Burke Photography
Marketing manager: George Woodward
Printer: Quad/Graphics
Color separator: Color Associates
List broker: Valerie White
Cover paper: 60 lb.
Text paper: 45 lb.
Number of pages: 52
Trim size: 8-3/8″ × 10-7/8″

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