Gifts Over $75, Silver Award: Cottura, 2000/2001 Edition

From the close-up cover shot of a Renaissance-inspired urn, it’s clear that Cottura puts product center stage. Once inside the catalog, Cottura’s vivid, detailed photography captures the essence of its line of Italian ceramics. “Wow — 32 pages of Renaissance! Very consistent, focused, and visually stunning,” enthused one judge. Said another panelist, “As in its prize-winning catalogs of the past, Cottura lets an illustration of its unique merchandise create attention and a desire to see what’s inside. It has got its formula down pat.” A third judge agreed: “Cottura keeps turning out catalogs that are almost impossible to resist — even if you aren’t interested in spending a fortune on ceramics.”

Not in the market for a $3,500 urn? Perhaps a biscotti jar for $165 or a small rooster pitcher for $40 is more to your taste or budget. “Lots of choices — in size, color, style, type. If someone likes this look, he’ll certainly find something that fits,” said one judge. A small selection of Venetian glass expands the product line beyond ceramics.

The catalog’s copy is both romantic and educational. While product descriptions are brief and to the point — simply listing the product name, dimensions, and price — each section begins with a captivating introduction. For instance, the lead-in to the Classical Rafaellesco collection begins: “The frescoes of Raphael, a master of the Renaissance, are the inspiration for Cottura’s elaborately painted Rafaellesco. Mythological double dragons are painted with arabesque details to create the most widely recognizable pattern in all of Italy….” Said one panelist, “The catalog educates the customer on the history of this Italian folk art. The love and respect for artisans comes across.”

The creative, on the other hand, could use some work, according to several judges. Given the steep price points, they felt that some of the photos don’t do the products justice. “The customer can’t be convinced of the quality. Multiproduct shots obscure some of the detail,” said a panelist. What’s more, a few of the judges described the order form, featuring a grid of available patterns, prices, and styles, as “odd” and “not user-friendly.”

Speaking of service-related issues, some panelists felt that Cottura’s “Promise to You” guarantee is contradicted by its limited 30-day warranty for unused merchandise. Other than that criticism, however, Cottura’s customer service earned high marks. “Product is king, and service is queen,” proclaimed a judge. Among the catalog’s praiseworthy niceties: its free gift-wrapping service, the bridal registry, and its environmental message (which encourages customers to send packing materials back in exchange for a $10 gift certificate).

Overall, Cottura proves itself a Silver winner by providing stellar product and developing a close relationship with customers. As one judge put it, “This is a one-of-a-kind catalog. Cottura knows its audience and how to select and present an assortment for them.”

2900 Rowena Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Company founded: 1985
Catalog launched: 1990
manager: Jim Zimmerman
Designer: Kris Knight Designs
Printer/color separator: Arandell Corp.
Cover paper: 80 lb.
Text paper: 60 lb.
Number of pages: 32
Trim size: 10-7/8″ × 10″

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