The Lion Takes a Bite
Regarding Herschell Gordon Lewis’s piece entitled “Catalog Copy: Sticking My Head into the Lion’s Mouth Again” (January issue), I have to take him to task on one of his examples of supposedly ineffective copy. After reading his critique of a copy block describing a print from the Basil Street Gallery catalog, “Master Bedroom” by Andrew Wyeth, I looked up the item in question. What I found was a subtle and sedate painting, which was described perfectly by the copy in question. The print portrays a dog lazily asleep on a bed in colors so subdued that they almost don’t register, and I found it funny that Lewis’s response to the copy (“Yawn”) was an absolutely perfect and appropriate reaction to the content and mood of the painting.
This leaves me seriously questioning Lewis’s judgment in such matters and imagining him as an esthetic dunce incapable of appreciating anything delicate or refined. Perhaps he’d like to live in a world where everything, regardless of what it is, is pitched by loud-mouthed, wild-eyed clowns in outrageous plaid sport coats who assault the prospective buyer with obnoxiously forceful language and swinging arms. Fine. But he shouldn’t then critique copy written for people with taste, as the appeal obviously eludes him.
Michael Worrell art director, Primal Screen
Praise of Biblical Proportions
I just read the article featuring our company that recently appeared on the Catalog Age Website (“With Holiday 2003 History, Mailers Look Ahead to 2004,” Jan. 11). Thank you very much for mentioning us. Catalog Age has been the catalog “bible” for us in many, many ways. It is packed with valuable information on the catalog industry, and I am not sure that we would be where we are as a company today without your publication.
J. Cory Smith President, J. Marco Catalog
Penzeys’s Campaign Strategy
Most catalogers use highly sophisticated zip code analysis to pinpoint prime retail locations. Penzeys Spices, however, is trying a novel approach: a “Bring a Penzeys to Your Town” contest. According to its new catalog, if you want a Penzeys store in your area, you should send the Brookfield, WI-based spices and seasonings marketer a postcard saying as much. The city or metropolitan area that submits the most postcards by July 31 will be rewarded with a Penzeys store. Penzeys, which so far operates the catalog, a Website, and 17 stores, has already opened a store near Catalog Age headquarters, in Norwalk, CT, so we won’t be entering. But if you’re gearing up for a Penzeys postcard campaign, note that the contest specifies only one card per address — so no ballot stuffing.
This Is One Crappy Catalog
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but no one can deny that the Turd Birds catalog is full of crap. The Lodi, CA-based mailer’s signature product is a bird sculpture made of driftwood, feathers, and horse manure. The line includes birds with whimsical names such as Fifi Feces and Grey Poopon; prices range from $20-$35. The horse manure used to make Turd Birds is carefully collected by catalog founder Karen Engelmann, dried, and lacquered in three coats of liquid plastic. You can plastic-coat it and dress it up, but our feeling is that a turd is still a turd, so this might not be the best gift option for your boss or your mother-in-law.
Trademark Collection Blowing Smoke?
Maybe we’re overreacting a bit, but it looks like a classic case of the old bait-and-switch to us. The front cover of the latest Trademark Collection catalog shows 11 licensed items, including what looks like a figurine Pufnstuf from the vintage Saturday morning kids’ show H.R. Pufnstuf. But inside the catalog, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single Pufnstuf item. We even went so far as to search on the Website — but no Pufnstuf. No, we’re not obsessed with Pufnstuf (or Witchiepoo, or Jimmy, or Freddie the Flute…), but this oddball show starring a weird dragon character has a way of staying with you. Our point is, if you’re going to show Pufnstuf on the cover (and we know it’s him — he’s even holding that damn flute!) you’d better be able to deliver the goods.