Orvis, The Sporting Tradition, Fall 1998

Sep 01, 1999 9:30 PM  By

Come on, admit it. This is a darned cute cover (see bottom, left). Regardless of whether you’re a nerves-of-steel game hunter or a granola-crunching tree hugger, the adorable photo of a hunting dog peeking out the back of a truck would get almost anyone to open this book. Still, as one judge notes, the photo also perfectly positions Orvis: “This image is right on for an audience of hunters. It hits the target audience’s `sweet spot.’”

Inside this 156-page Gold Award winner is a beautiful, distinctly upscale array of sporting goods products. “It seems to have everything a hunting or fishing enthusiast would ever want – and then some,” gushes one panelist. Another notes, “If an affluent, dedicated sportsman can’t find something in this catalog to cause him to pick up the phone and call Orvis, he must not have taken the time to look at the excellent photography or read the outstanding copy.”

The Orvis experience begins with a well-designed table of contents on the inside cover spread. The catalog is segmented by sporting interests, such as “Shooter’s World” and “On the Fly” (the fishing section). “Orvis certainly makes this book easy to use,” says a judge. And easy on the eyes, with breathtaking location and product photography.

Copy soars above the rest of the pack as well. First, Orvis creates instant authority by using editorial written by the “Orvis Advisors” – a group of well-known sportsmen – throughout the catalog. For instance, in the opening for “Shooter’s World,” Charles Gaines, a contributing editor for Sports Afield magazine, starts his musings about shooting this way: “My friend, Fenton Hartman and I, of the bad teethand the big heart, once shot in a sporting clays tournament in New Hampshire. We were expected to do pretty well and we didn’t. We were both a little hungover.”

Second, product copy is first-rate. Orvis’s Marquesas cotton shirts are “made from crisp, tightly woven 100% cotton poplin that doesn’t wilt under a midday sun.” Copy for the Navy SEALS watch notes that “self-powered micro-tritium gas glows non-stop on the numbers and hands of this high-tech timepiece, making it the world’s easiest watch to read in the dark.” “Each item stands out,” a panelist says.

All this, combined with a great roster of services, a solid guarantee, and additional touches such as a travel service and endorsed hunting destinations and guides, make this book “a sportsman’s dream,” says a judge. “It’s just a wonderful effort.”