Children’s Products, Gold Award: American Girl, Holiday Wishes 2000

The cover photo for the American Girl holiday catalog, a close-up shot of an adorable American Girl doll — with her rag doll in her pocket — positioned against the muted backdrop of a Christmas tree, evokes a festive mood. Just as important, as one judge noted, it “flaunts the quality of the merchandise.” And if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?

According to another panelist, the cover also succeeds because of “subtle elements directing eyeflow — the eyes on the rag doll, which gently leans toward the edge of the page.” Other elements on the cover, including the logo, are centered on the page; all work together beautifully to keep the focus where it should be: on the merchandise.

One strength of this catalog from Pleasant Co. is its merchandising concept. The American Girl Collection consists of dolls — along with accessories and books — as ethnically diverse as the target market of girls ages 3-12 and their parents. “Wonderful stories of children throughout history and dolls and accessories to go with them — it’s enough to make you want to find someone to give one to,” raved one judge. The company’s commitment to diversity is also reflected in the (human) models featured throughout the book.

The catalog’s visuals are another strong selling point. High-quality photographs succeed in focusing interest on the products, and the clean, consistent page formats do not detract from them. The photographs of real girls with matching dolls, said a judge, “reinforce the central message of allowing a girl’s imagination to enter the lives of the doll character.”

The copy is strong enough to complement the photos and is written so that it can be easily understood and enjoyed by both girls and their parents. Like the best book-jacket copy, the text introducing the historical characters and their stories draws readers back in time and provides just enough details to leave them wanting more.

American Girl keeps its customer service offerings simple but comprehensive nonetheless. The discreet 800-number and order form insert reflect, said one judge, “a restrained, yet self-assured approach of a catalog that understands its audience” — in other words, while the products are designed for girls, they’re ultimately bought by adults. The order form also includes an offer for a subscription to the Daughters newsletter for parents. American Girl even provides a “doll hospital” service to repair broken dolls.

Overall, the judges agreed about what makes this catalog a Gold Award winner: its concept of creating a catalog that builds trust and helps nurture the imagination of young girls, and its flawless execution. Well done!

American Girl Pleasant Co.
8400 Fairway Pl.
Middleton, WI 53562
Company founded/catalog launched: 1986
Senior art director: Myland McRevey
Art director: Suanne Delaney
Assistant art director: Jennifer Green
Production manager: Tom Kazunas
Copywriter: Sarah Wortham
Printer/color separator: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.
List broker/manager: Millard Group
Number of pages: 112
Trim size: 10-1/4″ × 10-1/4″

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