Food, Silver Award: Zingerman’s, Holiday 2000

When it comes to gourmet-foods catalogs, consumers are accustomed to seeing lush, mouth-watering photography. But with its whimsical illustrations and witty — and in many cases, lengthy — copy, the Zingerman’s catalog for food lovers takes a rather unorthodox approach. And in a job well done, Zingerman’s also takes a Silver Award.

Zingerman’s merchandise selection is “magnificent,” according to one judge. Products include breads, coffee cakes, cheeses, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and pastas. Readers should heed this rule of thumb, said one judge: “Do not browse this catalog before breakfast — you’ll either drool on the pages or run for the phone!”

If merchandise is the hero in Zingerman’s, copy is king. Credibility is established from the get-go, with snippet facts and testimonials throughout. The tone is “conversational with a sophisticated, descriptive wit,” noted one judge. The copy is also educational, said another: “I know more about olive oil than I ever wanted to!”

The judging panel had mixed opinions of the catalog’s unique design. One judge praised the artwork as fun: “It gives you new personalities on each spread,” such as a smiling, muscle-flexing ear of corn on a page selling polenta and two peppers sunbathing on lawn chairs on a page selling Turkish red pepper. Another panelist reasoned that “if you accept the cutesy, nonphotographic design, it’s great.” But if you don’t accept the drawings, it could be a problem. A third panelist appreciated the sense of humor and the catalog’s clever design, but said, “I still miss photographs — especially with food.”

Zingerman’s, which started as — and still is — a corner deli in Ann Arbor, MI, does a great job of bringing its store into print. “The catalog appears to be faithful to the flavors and smells found at its retail location, and it has done an excellent job of conveying this through its marketing concept,” said a judge. And several of the judges gave rave reviews to the institutional copy, namely the “eight reasons to order besides the great food.”

The catalog’s ordering information and customer service polices are presented in a personal and caring manner. “This alone made me want to order,” said one judge. For starters, Zingerman’s devotes four pages to ordering, clearly printing shipping information on the order form as well as inside the book. The catalog also offers to help customers find related products it doesn’t have.

Some judges felt that the catalog’s cover — depicting two cartoon cheeses in a “most wanted” police lineup — is a crime, because it doesn’t represent all the other gourmet goodies inside. “I thought it was just a cheese catalog,” one judge said. But without question, Zingerman’s is a charming — and effective — catalog renegade. After all, this catalog “attempts to sell an 85-lb. wheel of cheese for $1,350 with an illustration of a smiling cow,” said a judge. Now that’s unique.

620 Phoenix Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Company founded: 1982
Catalog launched 1992
Catalog director/merchandiser/marketing manager: Maurice Frechette
Copywriters: Maurice Frechette, Ari Weinzweig
Illustrator: Ian Nagy
Designer: Nicole Pomeranski
Printer: CPI Graphics
Cover/text paper: 50 lb.
Number of pages: 48
Trim size: 6″ × 10-1/2″

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