Even though America’s rather solemn forefathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are part of Williamsburg’s heritage, the 18th-century-inspired gifts and home decor cataloger never gets stuffy. The catalog manages to convey a warm, friendly tone without stepping out of the Williamsburg character – and that’s just one reason the company takes the Gold Award this year.
Williamsburg’s cover, featuring a dramatic photo of a bedroom in the Governor’s Palace at Williamsburg – a colonial village in Virginia – is yet another reason this book scored high with the judges. “There’s something charming in the simplicity of the single canopy bed, which dominates the cover,” said one judge. The intriguing cover line, “Things you can’t see, feel, touch, or be touched by, anywhere else,” and the simple yet distinctive Williamsburg logo create an ideal opener. A subtle mention of the front cover on the back cover, with the phrase “If you’d like to achieve this effect,” also won points.
The copy was proclaimed “outstanding” by at least one judge. “I was intrigued by the copywriter’s ability to retain traditional colonial Williamsburg thoughts yet add plenty of clever, modern-day touches,” the judge said. For instance, copy for stainless-steel antique flatware replicas begins “The first thing Jefferson bought in Paris? Two dozen silver forks and spoons. (Well, maybe the second thing.) When he went home to Virginia, he had them with him. Now we have them….”
The catalog has a vast selection of merchandise, encompassing glassware, tabletop items, linens, rugs, children’s products, and much more. Catalog copy also encourages customers to contact Williamsburg to find out about other items in which they may be interested.
Judges raved about Williamsburg’s service. Copy on the back of the company’s complete order form “provides the promise of outstanding customer service and does it in a friendly, charming manner,” one judge said.
In all, judges felt that Williamsburg’s catalog effort was superb. When a catalog is based on a widely known institution – in this case, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and historic village – “you need to keep everything from product selection to copy and design in character,” said one judge. The Williamsburg catalog does this flawlessly. Even Jefferson would be proud.