OfficeSmart, Smart Selections ’98 (U.K.)

Amid the field of dry, cluttered office supplies tomes stuffed with thousands of nearly identical products, Smart Selections stands out with its open layouts, an energetic product presentation, and generous white space. As one judge says, “This catalog is far more visually appealing than promotional-type catalogs. It uses better paper, better presentations, better layouts, more interesting creative treatments, and better copy.”

Smart Selections, from British-based OfficeSmart, boasts a magazine-style design complemented by its slick, durable construction. Heavy coated inside paper stock, a tight perfect binding, and a varnished cover, all in vibrant color, give the catalog a permanent, reference-quality feel and resist everyday wear and tear, keeping the catalog on buyers’ shelves where it can generate multiple sales.

To further lengthen its shelf life and to catch the eye of page-skimming customers, OfficeSmart punctuates the catalog with bright, color-coded tip boxes containing “Smart Ideas” that pertain to the items in the sections where they appear. They remind readers of product benefits and often help differentiate among similar products, as in this tip about wet pens: “Choose bullet tips for general purpose marking. Chisel tips are better for creative sketching, with three line widths available from the same nib.”

But Smart Selections offers much more added-value editorial than these hints from an office-bound Heloise. Features include an article on reducing stress in the office, an analysis of office efficiency, and a brief piece on prioritizing tasks. Also included is a sampling of a book on fitness in the workplace, although Smart Selections misses the opportunity to capitalize on this excerpt by selling the book.

Despite its magalog format, Smart Selections packs in a vast selection of office supplies. The airy layouts often disguise a relatively high-product density-with as many as 10 items per page-which can nonetheless be too high in places. In fact, one judge calls the catalog “too busy,” even frenetic to the point of distraction at times. Smart Selections does help readers navigate through thousands of items by supplying a color-coded table of contents inside the front cover, matching the borders and graphic accents in corresponding sections to those colors, and finishing with a comprehensive seven-page index.

In keeping with its engaging, magazine-style cover and opening pages, Smart Selections ends with a “Dear Editor” section, testimonials that support the catalog’s image of quality and attentive service-just as the editorial styling of the section maintains the flair that sets the catalog apart from the crowd.

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