Sundance, Holiday 1998

A long-haired woman kisses the cheek of the small boy she holds in her arms. Both are bedecked in navy fleece pullovers, and snowflakes cover their hair and clothing, creating a scene that emanates coziness amid winter’s chill. “It’s very compelling,” says one judge about the cover of Gold Award winner Sundance. Stunningly simple, the cover image nonetheless reflects the warm, rustic lifestyle that the catalog aims to present.

Sundance also draws high marks for its copy, which is often anecdotal in describing the design and function of the products. For instance, copy for a fireside robe for two proclaims that the item is “perfect for dreaming of sugarplums or relaxing in the fire’s glow. …[It] greets the dawn with aplomb, protecting you against early morning chill.” The Arts and Crafts-style curio cabinet, according to the copy, “is made from first-growth red oak, felled more than a hundred years ago and preserved at the bottom of Lake Superior….” As one judge says, “This catalog actually has a voice.”

The catalog also features short biographies of some of the artists whose products appear on its pages. Indeed, craftsmen produce many of Sundance’s items, providing the catalog with a unique, high-quality product offering. “It’s one of the best merchandised catalogs in the business,” enthuses one judge. Products range from rugged corduroy jackets and sterling silver jewelry to plush sofas and kilim rugs. Exceptional photography gives the catalog “a real sense of place. There is a wonderful feeling all the way through,” another judge says.

The judges are also impressed with Sundance’s dedication to customer service. According to one panelist, “The order form addresses all concerns that a direct marketing business should,” such as returns, exchanges, shipping time and costs, and even the use of recycled gift packaging. The judges especially like the promotion within the catalog concerning The James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness, a nonprofit organization that advocates public awareness of organ donation. “It’s a great give-back program,” one panelist remarks.

Indeed, the Sundance catalog captures a philosophy of living with an awareness of a connection to the environment and community. Its products evoke a sense of rural independence and tranquility, says one judge, with layouts and copy that are “richly layered but not overdone.”

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