1. Continuing with the spirit of tradition, here’s a catalogue cover that could have been produced in the mid-20th century. Is that a good or a bad thing? You decide. For us in the Direct Commerce office, this cover from The Original Gift Company encapsulates Christmas—creeping down the stairs to check whether Santa’s been, a beautifully decorated tree with presents galore—all from The Original Gift Catalogue, I assume. I like the tagline too: “Delivering the magic of Christmas”, which works on a number of levels. Finally, remembering that a catalogue has to do more than just look appealing, the cover carries a message that gift personalisation is free and sets out the last-order dates to reassure customers that The Original Gift Company really has thought of everything.
2. The Little White Company caught my attention purely because of the little girl whispering to the little boy. I like to imagine what they’re talking about. My favourites are “that big stocking’s mine” or “I’ve got more presents than you”, but we’ve had lots of fun coming up with other captions. I also like the set The White Company created for its cover and how it effortlessly hints at everything a customer can find inside, from furniture to rugs, from giant stockings to childrenswear.
3. The Scarlett Willow mailer arrived early in the season to announce that the Christmas boutique was now open. It was a favourite right from the start—I love the snowflake motif and the twinkly lights creating a flare effect on the cover; I like the simplicity of the propping—a silver spoon, a paper placeholder; I also like the tableware specialist’s emphasis on personalisation and the call to action to see the whole range online. The mailer only has eight pages to capture the imagination, but it gets it spot on. There were stocking fillers, kids’ gifts, best sellers and personalisation ideas. As a driver to encourage me to visit the Scarlett Willow website, this definitely succeeded.
4. The Christmas wildcard comes courtesy of gardening supplies cataloguer Wiggly Wigglers. This cover certainly made me stop and think: What’s a bull got to do with Christmas? What’s so special about this bull? Who is Trojan Fred? What does he have to do with Wiggly Wigglers? I feel like an outsider stumbling on a private joke. Do existing Wiggly customers already know Trojan Fred’s story and I don’t? I’ve scanned the catalogue from cover to cover to try and find out more, but failed. However, despite a frustrating front cover, the Wiggly Christmas catalogue does a lot right. There’s a special offer on the cover that encourages customers to spend more than £40 on their order and I love its “why buy Wiggly” spread on pages 4 to 5, which has some very convincing reasons to shop at Wiggler Wigglers. Also, I fear that if I say no, Trojan Fred might come after me.
I can’t end this post without a mention for my favourite back cover. While the males in the office would probably disagree, I much prefer the back cover of the Figleaves catalogue. The front seems the obvious choice—a seminaked woman. The back cover took a little more thought, fairy lights and baubles instead of a log fire, stockings hanging from the mantelpiece and a selection of gift boxes either side of the fireplace. It has a more Christmassy feel. But like I said, I’m sure at least half the population would disagree.--MT