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

Germany boasts a highly sophisticated mail order infrastructure, not to mention some of the largest catalogers in the world. So mailing “just any” catalog is not likely to wow customers in this market. But IBM’s VSB Catalog for Germany, a PC guide for the small business/home business (SOHO) market, isn’t just any catalog.

For starters, the angled shot of the IBM ThinkPad notebook computer makes a bold statement: This is an authoritative source for sleek, modern computers tailored to meet the needs of small businesses. The back cover continues the theme of form and function with an artistic shot of the UltraPort Camera and a backpack carrying case. Inside, the catalog maximizes selling space — a necessity in an eight-page book.

But its small size doesn’t mean that this catalog sacrifices organization. In fact, the inside front cover features a table of contents with listings for notebook computers, desktop computers, workstations, servers, and accessories. The book also promotes its Website prominently throughout.

The judges were enthusiastic about the use of a different color for each of the product categories and headlines to help organize this as a quick reference for buyers. Concise benefit heads and bulleted copy blocks provide all of the essential information, while the bold price points facilitate smart shopping. And displaying the IBM logo and the toll-free number at the bottom of each page helps boost brand awareness.

Judges spotted a few weakesses in design, however. For one, although the clean white background preserves the modern look, on some pages too many design elements are crammed in. Also, some of the secondary product shots are too small. But the catalog is strong on production values. The paper stock (135 GSM) is sturdy enough to ensure that this catalog doesn’t get misplaced or tossed; it also enhances the book’s crisp photography. In all, IBM’s German catalog does enough right to win the Silver Award this year. And to that, we say, Wunderbar!

IBM’s VSB Catalog
IBM Corp.
Route 100
Somers, NY 10589
Company founded: 1911
Catalog founded: 2000
Directors: Rene d’Ouvenou (Germany),
Audrey Moore (U.S.)
Designers: Chris Formisano,
Victoria Azarian
Production managers: Sandra
Meissner (Germany),
Jay Orenstein (U.S.)
Copywriters: Julie Rehnert (Germany),
Kim Morton (U.S.)
Photographer: Kutlu Ertan
Marketing manager: Doris Bröhl
Printer: Druckhaus Götz
Color separator: Reprofessional
Cover/text paper: 135 GSM
Number of pages: 8
Trim size: 11-1/2″ × 8-1/4″

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