Business Specialty, Silver Award: CMC Rescue Equipment, Catalog 121

Firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other rescue professionals have better things to do than riffle through catalogs in search of the proper harness or pulley. They need to find their supplies quickly and efficiently. The team behind CMC Rescue Equipment’s Catalog 121 apparently had that in mind when creating the book.

The inside front cover, for instance, is given over to a product index that is comprehensive yet easy to read (no six-point “mice type” here!). The opposite page is the table of contents, which includes sections about ordering, the Website, and the CMC Rescue School as well as product categories.

The judges agreed that CMC’s merchandise selection is comprehensive, in terms of price points as well as types of products. From ropes and rope-care products to wetsuits and goggles — if rescue workers need it, CMC sells it. What’s more, a number of the products are CMC-branded. “These people seem to be serious product developers,” said one panelist, “and the catalog radiates a reassuring authority.”

The same judge described the copy as “authoritative” as well. The product descriptions cut to the chase, addressing the key requirements and features, as in the description of the Born Entry-Ease: “Made of stainless steel, the Entry-Ease changes the edge of a manhole into a smooth surface that a person or stretcher can slide over. It will fit entries as small as 18 inches in diameter and also works on railings, pipes, and ladder rungs, or other surfaces with high friction or which may damage a lifeline. The Entry-Ease may be your only option in a location with low overhead clearance….”

One of the judges, however, felt that by using the headlines merely to list the names of the products, the cataloger is missing “the opportunity to set up the ‘need’ for the products and, with that, add-on purchases.” The judge also decried the lack of call-to-action copy throughout the book.

The panelists more or less agreed that the design is “clean and simple” and “very easy to shop.” Which is not to say that the creative couldn’t stand some improvement. Given the crispness of the photography, one panelist would have plumped for more action shots among the silhouetted product photos to add a human element and create drama. Another judge damned the creative with faint praise: “Overall, the book is responsibly designed, but unimaginative. It follows too rigidly the standard b-to-b format.”

It was the perceived lack of imagination, in fact, that prevented CMC from winning a Gold Award — or as one judge put it, “The book’s lack of personality is a problem.” But you could argue that when it comes to lifesaving equipment, a catchy personality is less important than solid, straightforward authority and reliability. And those qualities, the judges agreed, CMC Rescue displays from the front cover to the back.

CMC Rescue
P.O. Box 6870
Santa Barbara, CA 93160
Company founded: 1978
Director/merchandiser/marketing manager: Steven Kirkman
Designer/production manager: Silverander Communications
Copywriter: James Frank
Photographers: David Zeitz, Bill Boyd
Printer/color separator: Crest Graphics
Cover paper: 80 lb.
Text paper: 70 lb.
Number of pages: 124
Trim size: 8-5/8″ × 10-7/8″

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