Cat Merchandise Catalog, Winter ’97

Can sockets be sexy? If you’ve seen the Cat Merchandise Catalog, you know that the answer is yes. After all, don’t you want to get the most torque possible when twisting a socket? If that’s not something you think about on a daily basis, the Cat catalog, from machinery behemoth Caterpillar, goes a long way toward convincing you it should be.

>From the front cover showing a host of Cat tools underneath a Christmas tree to the festive spread of nutcrackers holding wrenches and screwdrivers, the tools are treated as something special. Caressed by white space, the products are photographed carefully to bring out each important design detail. By lavishing such space and high-level photography on each item, Cat implies that these aren’t just tools to hang on a work belt or toss in a musty basement-they are artistic instruments!

The Cat Merchandise Catalog is surprising in its breadth of product, the judges note. Not only does it seem to sell a wrench for every situation, but it also offers toys, such as miniature trucks-“start a little contractor on the road to success…”-and sweatshirts. “There’s a nice mix of hard goods, gifts, and clothing,” says a panelist. Judges also applaud the use of the Cat logo on seemingly every product. “Brand loyalty and strength of brand is always present,” says one.

Product copy is laden with benefits, and adjectives such as “tough” and “heavy” convey the dependability of the merchandise. The copy doesn’t just tell you that the products are hardy, though. Tool storage cases, for instance, are “Brawny enough to stand on,” and flashlights can “stand up to extreme weather conditions and rough handling.”

The judging panels gives Cat Merchandise Catalog’s customer service mixed reviews, however. The easy-to-use order form promotes 24-hour ordering and toll-free phone and fax numbers, but it doesn’t state the guarantee or return policies-customers have to call or write for this information. Also, the catalog doesn’t tell customers enough about Cat or promote the Caterpillar equipment brand at all, a judge notes.

Overall, though, the judges agree that this newcomer to business-to-business cataloging deserves a Silver Award. “Cat Merchandise makes a great debut; it is consistent in its mission-that of serving business owners and operators of heavy equipment with specialized tools,” sums up one judge. “It’s easy to imagine the customer from the merchandise.”

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