International B-to-B, Silver Award: IBM’s VSB Catalog, December 2000 (France)

Starting with the cover of the French edition of IBM’s VSB catalog of computer equipment for the small office/home office (SOHO) market, customers get a sense of the sleek design that the panelists raved about. As one judge remarked, “The cover is a strong black-and-white visual highlighted by the product line’s name in red, which complements — rather than overpowers — the unique visual of two laptops stacked on top of one another.” And if the catalog’s graphics don’t appeal to readers, the price printed in huge red letters certainly gets their attention!

The design of the interior pages is somewhat untraditional — black-and-white photos against a stark white background, with bold splashes of color highlighting categories and prices. According to the panelists, this design helps enhance the perceived quality of merchandise. In fact, one judge believed that the creative favorably distinguishes IBM from the competition.

Throughout the book, the crisp product photography shows even the smallest details of the keypads and the switches. As for the product itself, the judges agreed that the merchandise sold is highly appropriate for its SOHO audience.

The catalog’s “clear and concise” copy, noted a judge, is another asset. Busy small-business employees need to be able to make a confident selection quickly, and the copy, organized with bulleted lists of product features, enables them to do just that. Another bonus: All product prices are listed in euros as well as French francs. Unfortunately, the judges felt that the tiny typeface undermined the efforts to simplify shopping for the reader.

At just eight pages, IBM’s VSB catalog isn’t big in heft, but it is big on providing customers with the technology they need to run their businesses. And promotions such as a sweepstakes offering on the back cover show how catalogers with limited product offerings can still incorporate value-added features. Concluded one judge, “This catalog carves out its own niche while creating international synergy with the world-renowned IBM brand.”

IBM’s VSB Catalog
IBM Corp.
Route 100
Somers, NY 10589
Company founded: 1911
Catalog founded: 2000
Directors: Aurélie Fournier (France), Audrey Moore (U.S.)
Designers: Frédéric Lorentz (France), Victoria Azarian (U.S.)
Production managers: Vida Grach, Jay Orenstein
Copywriters: Sonia Perbal (France), Joan Filan (U.S.)
Photographer: Kutlu Ertan
Marketing manager: Laurent Rocabois
Consultant: Brann Wilton
Printer/color separator: Question
List broker: Tikal
Cover/text paper: 135 GSM
Number of pages: 8
Trim size: 11-1/2″ × 8-1/4″

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