*They’re the Top*

When discussing awards programs and winners, writers tend to trot out the same clichés. So let’s refrain from that, at least for a moment, to discuss just what the Annual Catalog Awards are all about.

For one thing, they are not a beauty contest. Design and production values are just two of the criteria the judges use in assessing the entrants. Copy counts, of course, as do customer service, merchandising, marketing, and results. (If a catalog doesn’t pull in sales, it can hardly be considered a winner, regardless of how beautiful/well written/fantastically merchandised it appears to be.)

For another, when we say “judges,” we’re not talking about relying on three or four individuals to review hundreds of entries. During the two-stage judging process, at least six of the more than two dozen industry experts and fellow catalogers review each finalist. What’s more, judges are not allowed to review catalogs with which they compete or for which they’ve worked. And the Catalog Age staff does not get involved in the judging, other than to moderate discussions, collate paperwork, and perhaps most important, keep the judges well fed.

Furthermore, if the judges decide that not a single entrant in a category meets their highest standards, there isn’t a Gold Winner in that category. Likewise, some categories may not have any Silver winners, or any winners at all.

In short, the Annual Catalog Awards are about honoring the very best catalogs — and by extension the teams who create them.

As Cole Porter might have said: “They’re the top. They’re the Colosseum. They’re the top. They’re the Louvre museum. They’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss…”

Congratulations, Annual Catalog Award winners!