Coach, Holiday Preview 1997

Elegant, timeless, seasonless.” That’s how one judge describes the cover of the Silver Award-winning Coach catalog, yet such adjectives could also be used in discussing the book’s merchandising, marketing, overall design, and copy.

Featuring a toffee-colored equestrian-style slim bucket handbag against a white background-“a nice-shaped bag, and the way the shot is cut off at the top is appealing and elegant,” says one judge-the cover immediately lets you know what you can expect: high-quality branded leather products. The front cover unfolds to a four-panel gatefold depicting high-style photos of diverse models whom Coach dubs “living legends.” The gatefold is a nice touch, says one judge, “and I like that it’s black and white.” Coach’s new clean, bold logo in sans-serif type appears on the cover with a small version of its traditional logo, “yet the two logos don’t appear to compete or conflict with each other,” a judge notes.

Once inside, readers find a sizable representation of the Coach line of leather accessories and handbags available in bright colors and interesting shapes. “Even though the line is broader than pictured, it seems that everything is here,” comments one panelist.

Although one judge notes that the paper stock is a bit thin and the type size is too small, most agree it’s a great-looking catalog. “It’s hard to argue with great shots against stark backgrounds,” as one panelist says. The digest format works well for Coach, and the leather marketer makes the most of the catalog space. Renowned for its simple elegance, Coach further heightened its upscale catalog image last year by decreasing product density more than 30% in each book. This move allowed the product winners to breathe and be presented as heroes; it also helped improve the book’s sales 20% over the prior year-even with the same circulation.

The concise, descriptive copy enhances Coach’s high-end lifestyle image. “The lack of a sales pitch is appealing,” a judge says, and the prices are conveniently located at the beginning of the copy. Another judge points out that the retail-oriented copy is also adequate for driving customers into the stores. And though the catalog offers several unique services, such as refills for its time management products and replacement straps for bags, one judge is surprised that the company doesn’t offer a toll-free customer service line.

Still, there’s no doubt that this book is a clear winner. Coach’s clean design, low product density, and strong brand identity work together to bag this catalog edition a Silver Award.

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