To hunting enthusiasts, nothing says outdoors more than the faces of their faithful companions, said one judge about the trio of Labrador retrievers on the cover of Orvis’s Sporting Tradition title. “What’s more compelling than three perfect Lab faces staring right back at you?” the judge asked.
Not all of the other judges agreed, though. “I’m not a fan of mood covers or utility dogs,” said one. Another panelist loved the dogs and how they evoke the tradition of sport but said, “The cover neither conveys the full breadth of the product inside nor does it lead to the opening spread.”
That’s a shame, because Orvis provides a wide-ranging, comprehensive selection of merchandise. A chart on a spread indicates the four climates throughout the U.S. to make it easier for customers to select the appropriate gear. The catalog even offers custom-made products, such as handmade boots built to fit your foot’s measurements. In addition to apparel and equipment for hunting and fishing, Orvis sells related products such as port decanters, cookbooks, and luggage.
The engaging copy can be lengthy to a fault, one judge pointed out, “but what saves it is that it’s so complete and so evocative.” Moreover, input from expert advisers and testimonials from authorities such as the contributing editors of respected sporting publications add tremendous credibility. And with titles such as “Eye of the Storm” and “A Dog’s Life,” Orvis employs “the best use of headlines of any of the books I’ve seen,” marveled one judge. Under the heading “Red Hills,” the lead-in paragraph for copy selling a pair of briar pants begins: “It is said that the red clay of the Southeast will stain your heart as surely as it does your boots….” But the cataloger may want to hire more proofreaders, as one eagle-eyed judge found a misspelling in the state of “Winconsin.”
Several judges applauded the catalog’s layouts, photography, and use of typography. Said one panelist, “There are some beautifully designed spreads in this catalog.” For instance, a spread selling cowboy hats and related gear is tied together with an inset lifestyle photo of two “real” cowboys cooking breakfast over a fire. Another judge proclaimed the design “absolutely perfect.” The spreads are so well thought out, so inviting and sellable, “they’re a perfect blend of copy, photography, style, and elegance.” Other judges had some minor issues with the design, such as the too-small typeface. “And the production values aren’t great,” said one judge, noting that show-through is evident on some pages.
Orvis’s customer service drew an “outstanding” from at least one judge. Special services include personalization, engraving, and automated order status. Customers can also order catalog items from an Orvis store and have most shipping charges waived. Altogether, Orvis is “an absolute authority,” raved a judge.
The Orvis Co.
Historic Route 7A
Manchester, VT 05254
Company/catalog founded: 1856
Designer: Tim Achor-Hoch
Production manager: Greg Nesbit
Copywriter: Ryan Shadrin
Photographers: H/O Photographers,
Marketing manager: Mark Fagiano
Printer: Spencer Press
Color separator: Quadrichrome S.A.S.
List broker/manager: Millard Group
Cover paper: 55 lb.
Text paper: 34 lb.
Number of pages: 156
Trim size: 7-15/16″ × 10-1/2″