Stoner: Clean, Lube & Protect, Summer/Fall 1998

A good job selling a boring product” is how one judge describes the Stoner: Clean, Lube & Protect catalog. Indeed, it’s not easy to sex up spray dusters or add excitement to food-grade Teflon grease, but Stoner’s efforts in this market have earned it the Silver Award this year.

Stoner sells products that cover a full range of industrial cleanups, including spray cleaners, swabs, wipes, chemical dispensers, cleaning brushes, and absorbent products. “And the catalog has added nonchemical products from outside suppliers, which complements its proprietary line,” one judge comments.

To sell such products, Stoner uses a clean design with large photos of proprietary products; often whole pages and spreads are devoted to one product line. But while most judges like the design, they disagree on the merits of the catalog’s cover, which displays a dramatic shot of a spray cleaner. Several judges praise the strong photo and the free offers, but one panelist feels that the cover resembles an advertisement: “The use of black, yellow, and red is a little too close to junk mail; there’s also a coupon on the front,” the judge says.

Inside the catalog, Stoner comes off as a true authority on industrial cleaners and lubricants. Large benefit-driven headings such as “easily recycle and dispose of empty aerosol cans” draw readers in, while section headings (“service and repair solutions”) help organize the presentation. “The benefit statements and product-use examples really help in decision-making,” a panelist points out. While some of the judges feel the copy is too long and repetitive in some places and that the cataloger overuses red italic type, for the most part the panelists give a thumbs-up to the often lively prose (“Dust with gust”; “Get glass so clean, you’ll think it’s invisible”).

Stoner really shines in selling its services, however. On the opening spread the cataloger proclaims, “You’ll love ordering direct from Stoner and here’s why,” and then provides nine good reasons, from volume discounts to free delivery. The word “free” appears several times throughout the order form, including in a promotion giving away 12 cans of spray duster with each order of $150 or more. “That’s a generous offer,” one judge notes of the $42 value of the 12 spray cans. “And judges love the word `free.'”

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