The Best and Worst Catalog Copy of 2014

These came close:


Schweitzer Linen and

Herschell Gordon Lewis
Herschell Gordon Lewis

I hadn’t known of this catalog, and my first look was mildly surprising: this creative team uses copy to sell, not just describe. So “sell” underscores specificity and doesn’t swamp it as over-eager writing does. A few of the copy-block openings:

For bedding named “New York“: Displaying a great sense of style with definite connoisseur appeal, luminous White Egyptian cotton sateen, 600 thread count, is an impressive setting for….

And on it goes. Lengthy sentences are the norm here and are my only hesitantly negative questions.

Soft Surroundings

The line dividing poetry and prose is sometimes crossed accidentally. When it’s crossed deliberately and with professional wordsmithy, the copy becomes not just a pleasure to read but an incentive to respond.

Soft Surroundings has one irritating mannerism – naming products at a level beyond the recognition factor of some prospects without any rationale behind the names (“Eleonore” Crystal Chandelier, “Corinne” Mirror, “Fleuri” Light Switch, “Katherine” Chandelier Lamps), but it’s a minor arrogance once the eye glides past the name. Just the beginning of the copy-block for Eleonore Crystal Chandelier:

Like a glittering jewel for your home, this tiny chandelier adds a welcome dose of glamour and sparkle to any space. European-cut crystal teardrops and prisms catch the light from every angle as they swing from the iron fleur-de-lis crown….

Why isn’t this in the top five? Because even accepting the offputting product names, intrusion of the occasional out-of-key word such as “dose” suggests the potential benefit of additional editing.

Sharper Image

I was prepared to jump all over the reincarnation of this catalog, whose history is somewhat tarnished. Nope. It’s thoughtful, specific, and salesmanlike. If this column featured the six best rather than the five best, Sharper Image would join that glorified group. What bigger compliment can I bestow?

Peruvian Connection

The descriptions in this catalog are as carefully tailored as their fashions seem to be. To the professional copywriter, word choices are a major factor, and this catalog obviously treasures the latent capability of words to pre-set a reader’s attitude.

Just a couple of examples make the point…

For a “Gallery Coat,” copy begins: Black and white and gorgeously graphic, the artsy, double-faced knit coat in baby alpaca (70%) and wool (30%) is patterned with African geometrics. Long, easy and simply modern with….

So it goes. Words and phrases such as “artsy” and “gorgeously graphic” are a cut above the typical journeyperson copywriter.

Enough of this prelude. Let’s jump inside our rhetorical garden.

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NEXT: The Best of 2014

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