Hardware, Gold Award: McFeely’s Square Drive Screws, 2000

From the very first page, it is clear why the McFeely’s catalog deserves the Gold Award in the hardware category. The company has mastered the unenviable challenge of successfully making square drive screws accessible and appealing to readers.

The front cover — a caricature of cabinetmaker Jimbo McFeely (who bears a striking resemblence to president Jim Ray) prominently featured alongside multiple references to the catalog’s 800-numbers in bold, colored type — makes use of every centimeter of space. The absence of white space, though unconventional, received high marks from the judges. One judge described the cover as “unorthodox and cluttered,” but added that in this case, “it works and welcomes the customer inside.” Another judge agreed: “The empathetic visual makes me want to open and look for solutions to my hardware problems.”

Inside, the product depth is astounding. The vast selection, which includes hinges, drawer slides, and fastening systems, is designed to fulfill every woodworker’s dream. “I never knew screws could be so sexy,” said one judge. An entire eight pages devoted to its huge assortment of screws reinforces McFeely’s positioning as the “square drive authority.”

The catalog exemplifies how to efficiently organize a large variety of products. Each page has a product heading at the top, while the full-page index ensures that customers will never get lost. Detailed photos and illustrations accompany each product, enabling even the most inexperienced consumer to tell the difference between hardware-store screws and production-grade screws.

The detailed copy extends the instructional tone. “Virtually every copy block is an educational experience designed to help the reader be a more successful worker,” said a panelist. Better still, the product copy isn’t bogged down with technical terms but instead is written in a language that even novices can understand. A tongue-in-cheek advice column adds to the fun. An example: “Dear Dr. Jim: My Driver Bits wear out after just a few screws. What should I do? — ‘Lifeless’ in Seattle.” And for the more experienced user, helpful tech tips and sidebars are located throughout the catalog.

But it might be the superior customer service that is this catalog’s strongest asset. Frequent references to the 24-hour toll-free tech support number, fax number, and Website address at the bottom of each page help to ease any fears that buyers may have. One judge singled out the customer “Bill of Rights” on the order form insert as an example of the exceptional service, while another pointed to the back cover, which informs catalog recipients how they can opt out of McFeely’s mailings as well as contact the DMA’s Mail and Telephone Preference Services. (The back cover also has a plug for the nonprofit group Habitat for Humanity.) In short, while McFeely’s is a worthy recipient of our top prize, it seems the real winner is the customer.

McFeely’s Square Drive Screws
1620 Wythe Rd.
Lynchburg, VA 24501
Company founded: 1978
Catalog launched: 1987
Catalog director/production
James C. Ray
Designer: Tim Wilson
Photographer/illustrator: James C.
Ray, Tim Wilson
Marketing managers: James C. Ray,
Ron Pegram
Printer: Quad/Graphics
List broker: List Locators & Managers
List manager: Tammie Banks
Cover paper: 50 lb.
Text paper: 40 lb.
Number of pages: 92
Trim size: 8-1/2″ × 10-7/8″

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