Children’s Products, Silver Award: AG Mini’s, Holiday 2000

If good things come in small packages, the products in the AG Mini’s catalog must be downright great. This new title from the American Girl catalog parent Pleasant Co. sells contemporary and whimsical miniature dollhouse rooms and furnishings.

The merchandise in this Silver Award-winning book is “creative, innovative, and very clever,” said one judge. Funky miniature furniture designs in the catalog’s purple, lime green, turquoise, and bright yellow color palette are complemented by the graphics, “giving the book a personality of fun and playfulness,” added another panelist. And all the judges were impressed with the selection of lighting that works. “The mini-lamps that really light up are great!” one judge marveled.

While the plain, spare copy isn’t terribly extensive, some of the judges admire the clever and chatty tone. “Copy does a good job of explaining things and inspiring,” a judge said. And though the copy is geared to younger readers, it’s sufficiently informative to get the parents hooked, added another panelist. Still, a third judge saw room for improvement. “Headlines could have been stronger — most are just the product names,” the judge said. “With such a fun product line and graphic presentation, it seems there could have been more play in the headlines.”

The catalog’s production values, photography, paper, and printing were deemed “outstanding” by at least one judge. While the panelists were mixed about the fanciful choice of fonts for the headlines, more liked them than hated them. “The headlines are in a ‘bouncy’ kind of font that’s perfect for the target audience and product line,” a judge said. Also, the judge added, “I like the use of hands on every page to reinforce the scale of the products.” And the book’s 10-1/4″ × 10-1/4″ trim size “is perfect for this miniature product line,” another panelist pointed out.

Given that AG Mini’s is an offshoot of Pleasant Co., it’s no surprise that its customer service and ordering policies are complete. But the newer catalog might be wise to play up its affiliation with Pleasant Co. and the American Girl brand, said one judge. For instance, on the cover, “AG Mini’s doesn’t mean anything to me as a brand. But American Girl does — and it is relegated to the bottom right corner,” the judge pointed out. The branding issue notwithstanding, the rest of the judges scored the book’s cover highly. “The cover immediately conveys miniatures,” another judge said. “The larger-than-life-size photo — which includes a hand to show scale — impresses customers with the detail and level of quality of the merchandise inside.”

While the concept of selling miniature dollhouse furniture isn’t new, the AG Mini’s proprietary designs provide a unique and imaginative twist. As one judge put it, whoever created the product designs “was really thinking outside the box.”

AG Mini’s
Pleasant Co.
8400 Fairway Pl.
Middleton, WI 53562
Company founded: 1986
Catalog launched: 2000
Catalog director: Michael Ridel
Designer: Tanya Filitz
Production manager: Dawn R. Stelse
Copywriter: Cathy English
Photographer: Jim White Photography
Vice president, marketing: Shawn Lockyear
Printer: Quad/Graphics
Color separator: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.
List broker: Millard Group
Cover paper: 80 lb.
Text paper: 60 lb.
Number of pages: 24
Trim size: 10-1/4″ × 10-1/4″

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