At first glance, the immediate challenge faced by the South Cape apparel catalog is living up to the promise of its front cover. In an unforgettable product shot, the cover features the catalog’s star item, a ski jacket, modeled by a polar bear in the midst of a snowstorm. The cover text along the bottom of the page is the perfect complement to the photograph: “Nobody takes to winter like South Cape. Our Supplex Jacket. From the coldest places on Earth. For the coldest days in Australia.”
The inside cover continues to plays up the fact that the cover jacket’s materials come from across the Pacific, where “Arctic winds literally freeze most of the North American continent.” From here the copy dissects the item benefit by benefit, explaining the value of everything from the fabrics selected to the zipper used.
The pattern varies little throughout the book. Attention to every detail of the manufacturing process is coupled with an explanation of why South Cape believes the item is an uncommon value. “The copy is clear and descriptive, but always with a romantic flavor and a uniquely Australian style,” one judge remarks.
The straightforward language of this catalog matches its visuals. Products are given a great deal of space, both for decidedly romantic action shots and for isolated close-ups. Whenever a fabric is discussed at length, an additional close-up showing knit or construction elements reinforces the copy. In several cases a diagram is added to highlight the differences between South Cape’s products and the competitors’. One complaint that a judge has, however, is that despite the catalog’s stated emphasis on winter products, most items aren’t meant for particularly cold weather. “The cover and opening spread position this catalog as a ‘snow survival guide,’ but the rest of the product line doesn’t fit this image. It breaks up the continuity of the merchandising,” says the judge.
The catalog’s relaxed pace carries over to the customer service section, which devotes four pages to outlining policies in the same conversational tone as the product copy. Where another catalog might have used a headline to cry out, “Free hemming,” this catalog instead promises, “We’ll hem your South Cape pants, cuffed or uncuffed-as you prefer, to your leg length, right to the centimetre, free.” Service reps are referred to as “people who enjoy being helpful,” and its unconditional guarantee is found beneath the plain-spoken headline, “Guaranteed means guaranteed.”
Overall, South Cape succeeds in creating more than a profitable catalog. It sets a mood and offers customers a thoroughly relaxing shopping experience.