Orvis: The Sporting Tradition, Fall 1997

Orvis proves it knows how to put a new spin on an old concept with this Gold Award winner. The sporting goods cataloger redesigned its offering, dividing the book into “chapters,” lowered product density significantly, and added more editorial to give the catalog more authority and more of a magazine feel. At the same time, Orvis made the catalog easier to use, more approachable, and more customer-friendly. “Wow! This redesign really works,” says one judge. “It really speaks to this customer’s lifestyle and interests.”

Orvis gets high marks right out of the box, with its cover design. Judges love the dog photo with the “BIRDDOG” auto license plate and the dark green background framing the image. “This cover is targeted; the reader really ‘gets it,'” says one panelist.

The reader should “get” the copy as well, as it is expertly targeted to the Orvis customer. Each chapter, or category of product, opens with an introduction from an Orvis “advisor” that is personalized and conveys instant authority. For the “Shooter’s World” products section, for instance, Hunting Advisor Robert F. Jones writes: “Forget about the scorecard-sporting clays should be fun. True, it is a game of subtle angles, requiring intense concentration tuned to sharp reflexes, as well as the finest judgements [sic] of stance, gun-mount, timing and follow-through. But the wise shooter will never forget that it’s just a game….” Introductions such as these are deftly combined with romantic and benefit-oriented product descriptions throughout. The copy, says one judge, “is one of the catalog’s biggest strengths.”

Then there’s the merchandising. “Wow again!” exclaims one panelist, remarking that the 132 pages of product are thorough and authoritative. Another gushes, “This book is beautifully merchandised. It takes a very rugged outdoor concept and selects great related products to support the concept.” Shooters, for instance, can select from leather gun cases, jackets, videos, Teflon-coated shooting glasses, gloves, protective earmuffs, shotguns, gun-cleaning kits, targets, gunning boxes-you name it, Orvis has it. Throughout, excellent in-use and off-model product shots are combined with beautiful landscapes and sporting-related images that “add charm to the catalog, without distracting from the merchandise,” as one panelist notes.

All this, backed up with a great guarantee and other high-level customer services, creates what the judges feel is a Gold Award-winning role model for the rest of the catalog industry.