Playful Approach Proves Golden for Cushman’s

The tagline on the front cover of Cushman’s Fruit Co.’s First Harvest 2009 catalog reads “A tradition of uncommon fruit since 1945.” The judges felt that this purveyor of edible gifts produced a catalog of uncommon excellence. As a result, it received a Gold Award in the Food/Gifts, Sales over $20 Million, Print category.

Why it won a Gold Award:
Let’s start with the front cover. A clean, crisp, enticing product shot, with a large, easily readable cutline informing recipients on what pages the items can be found. An oversize faux dot whack promoting free standard delivery and an intriguing “Two ways to save!” along with another direction as to where to find the details of the offer. In short, it’s no surprise that one judge was moved to say, “They do everything right.”

The product selection is fairly limited: primarily citrus fruits, with a few other food gifts to round out the offering. Nonetheless, Cushman’s offers a wealth of price points by bundling and packaging its oranges, grapefruits, and flagship HoneyBells in so many creative ways: “Straight from the Grove” Baskets, Happy Holidays Gift Trays, cartons, crates, and continuity clubs, in a variety of sizes and prices.

Cushman’s also knows how to elevate what might be viewed as a commodity into a distinctive, rare find and its catalog as the only suitable place to purchase it. A full spread is devoted to perpetuating the mystique of the HoneyBell, a grapefruit/tangerine hybrid, with old-style direct marketing copy (“What the Devil is This? Then Ed bit into one and the plot thickened…”), reminders of their limited availability, and special packaging: “Every shipment receive free HoneyBell bibs (juice protection), HoneyBell tattoos, the HoneyBell story (a rib tickler) and directions on HoneyBell feasting (an art)…”

The other products receive beautifully crafted copy and mouthwatering photography as well. Judges singled out what one called “the playful tone of the copy” as a particular strength. “The copy is very personal, giving the catalog a voice. And that voice is fun!” praised another panelist.

The warm, folksy personality carried over to the customer service. “I got a good feeling from the inside front cover and ordering info spread,” said a judge, referring to the prominent guarantee, clear ordering instructions, and references to value pricing. “They seem like good guys who would take care of the customer. Some catalogs manage to impart this feeling, while others do not.”

Cushman’s certainly succeeded in winning over the judging panel. Summing up the group’s sentiments, one judge concluded, “This catalog is a poster child of what to do.”

Idea to steal:
If you have a perennial best-seller, particularly if it’s one that is uniquely yours, consider giving it a true hero treatment, not only in how you handle it creatively within the catalog but also in its packaging, as Cushman’s does with its HoneyBells.