Masthead News Archives
August 2007

August 29, 2007
More on the Chatelaine redesign
TORONTO - Last week, we reported that the Chatelaine redesign originally set for Oct. 1 was going ahead. MastheadOnline has since learned that while the issue will feature new editorial sections and some new design, it will not be accompanied by a “redesign” marketing campaign. A logo change and a major, cover-to-cover design overhaul are being held as well, most likely until the spring. Chatelaine will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year.

According to sources close to the mag, then editor-in-chief Sara Angel announced a change in the original plan to launch a full redesign on Oct. 1 at a summer production meeting. Angel told her staff she was worried about alienating readers by changing too much, too quickly, and had decided to unveil the redesigned elements in stages.

Angel parted ways with Chatelaine in July. No replacement has been named.

The “slow redesign” strategy has worked for American magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair, and People. Flare’s Lisa Tant also used a similar strategy, making various changes to editorial and design for three and half years before finally announcing and launching a full redesign this month.

(Look for a full interview with Lisa Tant in the Sept/Oct issue of Masthead.)

August 28, 2007
Green Space targets environmentally conscious homeowners
VANCOUVER - Now in its sixth year, Green Space—published annually by Business in Vancouver Magazines and distributed with the weekly Business in Vancouver newspaper—­has repositioned itself from a magazine devoted to environmentally conscious construction to a green reference guide for business execs and homeowners. “Environmental issues go far beyond the business community,” says editor Paul Harris, “and we saw the need to address consumer-driven trends.” With construction booming in Vancouver in preparation for the 2010 Olympics and housing prices so high homeowners are opting to renovate rather than buy, Green Space is targeting both businesses and consumers looking to make informed green decisions.

The magazine’s greatest challenge was creating something that will hold the attention of two distinct markets cover-to-cover, Harris said. To achieve this, Green Space brought Junxion Strategy - a Vancouver communications firm specializing in sustainability – on board to create a specific look and feel that would appeal to a wider readership. Junxion Strategy introduced a modern typeface, a clean and spacious design throughout the book and a basic colour theme that wouldn’t fade with changing trends. The magazine showcases four stories on the cover page—ranging from eco-friendly renovations to corporate sustainability reporting—that speak to both business and consumer markets. It also includes a 20-page directory listing of firms that specialize in green design, construction and products.

The magazine increased its pagination from 80 to 104 pages, and its distribution program has evolved to include more public events like Metro Vancouver’s green summits.

- Christine Davidson

August 24, 2007
Redwood loses Kraft account
TORONTO - Redwood Custom Communications has lost its custom publication account with Kraft Foods, Redwood president and CEO Eric Schneider confirmed yesterday.

The account goes to the Iowa-based Meredith Corporation, which produces more than 200 custom titles. Redwood will continue to produce the four Kraft custom publications until the first business quarter of 2008. The staff of 35 who work on those titles has been put on notice, Schneider said. Redwood employs 160 people.

 “It will be difficult to absorb everybody,” he said. “It’s not impossible, but obviously we are cautious and our people here understand the worst case scenario. We have informed them as early as possible, so they have the chance to pursue other opportunities.” Redwood will also downscale its Chicago, Ill. offices, where staff providing project management support were based, Schneider said.

The Kraft account represented a “significant piece of business” for the Toronto-based agency, Schneider said, but account losses are “part of the business” of custom publishing. The key, he said, is “successfully managing losses.”

Redwood initially won the Kraft account in 2000. Over the next four years the company launched the four branded publications for Kraft (What's Cooking and Qu’est-ce qui mijote in Canada, Food and Family and Comida y Familia in the U.S.), which today have a combined circulation of 12 million.

The contract came up for renewal late last year. The bidding process started with ten agencies and was eventually whittled to Redwood and Meredith. Kraft opted to go with the latter because the American company offered access to a customer database with 85 million names and recipe development opportunities through its Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen.

This isn’t the first time Redwood has lost a major account, although it is the first time an account has been lost to a competitor. In 2000, the JCPenney, which at the time accounted for 97% of Redwood’s business, opted to discontinue its custom publishing marketing strategy. Redwood put 30 employees on notice, but was eventually able to secure all but one position.

Schneider called the Kraft deal “a very orderly transition” and said Kraft and Redwood both “recognize all of the innovation” that took place during their seven-year partnership. “In spit of the loss, this open us huge amounts of opportunities that never existed before,” he added, explaining that Redwood is now free to bid on contracts with companies who are Kraft competitors.

August 23, 2007
Transcontinental steps into the cutthroat custom publishing world
MONTREAL - Transcontinental Media’s announcement last week that it will launch a custom publishing agency in partnership with UK-based Seven Squared brings another major player into this lucrative and competitive market.

“Branded content offers marketers the ability to connect in an engaging and non-intrusive way with their target audience, while providing high value returns,” said Transcontinental Media President Natalie Larivière in a company press release. “Combining the experience of Seven Squared with Transcontinental Canadian media expertise will provide best-in-class branded content services to our clients’ increasingly global integrated marketing strategies.”

Transcontinental already publishes nearly a dozen custom publications for companies such as Home Hardware, the Quebec Liquor Board and the Canadian Automotive Association of Quebec but those publications will not be rolled into the new agency, Stéphane Gagné of Transcontinental Media.

Gagné cites research showing 29% annual growth in North America in the custom publication market since 2001 and predictions that the market will double between now and 2010 as two key reasons for Transcontinental’s decision to open the new agency. He says the company has been hearing requests from advertisers who believe custom magazines will give them a “closer, more one-on-one relationship” with their audience and saw an opportunity to expand.

Transcontinental’s new agency has scooped up the Look Good Feel Better title (Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Association) from Rogers Media.

Katrine Kopvillem, managing director and publisher of Montreal’s Spafax Inc., which publishes the award-winning Air Canada in-flight magazine EnRoute, says her company welcomes the competition from Transcon. “It’s a statement on the health and vitality of the custom publishing industry,” Kopvillem said.

Transcontinental Inc. appears to be in acquisition and expansion mode announcing Tuesday that it will launch a takeover bid for PLM Group Ltd. The PLM Board of Directors will recommend that shareholders accept the bid, which the board has deemed as fair.

PLM, founded in 1987, is Canada’s fourth-largest printer. The company specializes in direct marketing and also offers premedia and digital printing. PLM employs 470 people and owns four facilities in the Greater Toronto Area.

Transcontinental is already a major player in the direct marketing printing market in both Canada and the U.S. Its Transcontinental Direct division includes the old Yorkville Printing business in Toronto.

August 20, 2007
Lisa Tant speaks about Flare’s new look, Chatelaine redesign still on
Toronto - Flare editor-in-chief Lisa Tant has been looking to do a cover-to-cover redesign since since she made her editorial debut in September 2004. She finally made it happen this year – the new look Flare hits newsstands today.

“We’ve been evolving the magazine for the last three and a half years but we wanted to do more of an overall change and make a bigger announcement about it,” said Tant.

The redesign, which was helmed by Tant and longtime Flare art director Tanya Watt, has been planned for two years, Tant said, but was held until September, since “Fall Fashion” is typically the biggest-selling issue of the year for beauty and style mags.

“If people are only going to buy a couple of issues a year, September is one of them,” Tant said.

The redesigned Flare will be accompanied by an ad campaign spanning across the Rogers magazine platform, created by Toronto-based Endeavour Marketing. It includes fashion photos from Flare photographers, an invitation to "Catch Flare's New Look,” and a new slogan: "All the Fashion, All the Beauty, All the Flare." Ads will run through the fall in Rogers publications such as Chatelaine, LouLou, Glow, Hello! and Maclean's, as well as Rogers Media consumer publishing websites.

Flare, which has a readership of 1.6 million according to the latest PMB numbers and which grossed over $17.5-million in 2006, is the industry leader in the abundant fashion/shopping/women’s market, where it competes against titles such as Fashion (St. Joseph Media), Elle Canada and Elle Quebec (Transcontinental), glow and LouLou (both Rogers), and Jeanne Beker’s FQ.  

The new Flare has a more “international look,” Tant says, which is important for newsstand presence. “Our market is Canada but we sit on the newsstands next to all of the big American magazines and we fight with them for readers attention. We have to look just as good as them.

“I look at Vogue and I could just cry at how big it is – it’s three times the size of Flare. That’s my dream.”

(The full interview with Lisa Tant will appear in the Sept/Oct issue of Masthead.)

In more new look news from Rogers, a source inside Chatelaine has confirmed that Canada’s most profitable magazine will unveil a redesign for its October issue. The redesign, which Masthead first learned of at the Alberta Magazines Conference in March, will go ahead despite the resignation of editor-in-chief Sara Angel in July. Rogers Publishing remains tight-lipped about details. “Great magazines always evolve, and Chatelaine will continue to do so,” said Suneel Khanna, Director of Communications at Rogers. No word yet on Angel’s replacement.

August 16, 2007
Time Magazine to appeal latest sweepstakes ruling
New  York - Time Inc. is moving forward to appeal a court decision which  awarded $100,000 in damages to a Quebec man who says he signed up for a Time magazine subscription thinking he had won a large sweepstakes prize.

Time will appeal “on grounds that the punitive damages awarded were not warranted or allowed,” said Daniel Kile, a company spokesperson.

In July, a Quebec judge ruled in favour of Jean-Marc Richard, who said he was embarrassed when he did not receive the $1.2-million (CDN) promised by a direct-mail circulation campaign from Time. Richard, whose first language is French, received an unsolicited letter from Time in 1999, which said: “Our sweepstakes results are now final: Mr. Jean-Marc Richard has won a cash prize of $833,337.00!” Richard said he did see the preceding small print, which said: “If you have and return the Grand Prize winning entry in time and correctly answer a skill-testing question, we will officially announce that…”

Sweepstakes mail-outs were a common way to solicit magazine circulation in the 1980s, but a series of lawsuits and regulatory decisions which decided in favour of consumers effectively brought them to end.

In her initial ruling, Madam Justice Carol Cohen of the Quebec Superior Court said: “There can be no doubt here that the unsolicited publicity sent to Mr. Richard indeed had the capacity to mislead if viewed through the eyes of the average, inexperienced French-speaking consumer in Quebec.

“It is parently obvious to any reader that the mailing from Time was not only false and incomplete, it was specifically designed to be misleading…especially to a reader who is not reading in his or her mother tongue.

In 2000, Time Inc. paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds and damages related to sweepstakes cases. The company also signed agreements in 48 states to be more open and revealing about sweepstakes in future mail-outs.  “We no longer use sweepstakes solicitations and haven't used them for several years,” Kline said.

August 15, 2007
Masthead names Marco Ursi new editor
MISSISSAUGA, ON—Masthead publisher Doug Bennet is pleased to announce the appointment of Marco Ursi as editor of Masthead and MastheadOnline.com, effective this week.

Marco Ursi

Most recently, Ursi had a summer position at Maclean’s, working primarily on features for Macleans.ca, covering topics such as drugs, record stores and the Harry Potter books. Previous to that he worked at the Victora Times-Colonist as a feature writer. Ursi graduated from Ryerson University’s magazine journalism program in 2006, and served that year as editor of the award-winning Ryerson Review of Journalism. His feature profile in that issue, on Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias, has won several awards.

Ursi is also active online, having founded the online publication White Noise and contributing to PopMatters.com.

“The media has always been one of my favourite topics," Ursi said. “This position gives me the chance to do in-depth coverage of an important part of this industry. I love magazines and I am interested in seeing Canadian magazines succeed, but that won’t stop me from being honest and critical when necessary."

“I’m thrilled that Marco is bringing his many talents, energies and new perspectives to Masthead," Bennet said. “I invite readers to contact him with their thoughts about the magazine, web site and the industry in general so we can continue to provide a relevant and useful service to the ever-changing magazine business."

August 9, 2007
AMPA launches Facebook group
CALGARY—The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, spurred on by a web-savvy board member and also inspired by Mags University web publishing seminars, has launched a group on Facebook, the popular social networking site.

“Given the crazy affliction that most people have with [Facebook] we thought we’d set up a group,” says AMPA executive director Colleen Seto. “That’s one of the things I garnered from Mags U, how to take advantage of the whole interactive thing.”

At this point the group is an experiment “to see what comes out of it,” Seto says. As of today there were 37 members with posts on the discussion board by publishers looking for printers and also a casting call for an AMPA photo shoot. (“We’re looking for friendly faces 25-35 years old, all genders & ethnicities, for a 3 hour photo shoot for the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association.”)

The idea was spearheaded by AMPA board member Karen Neudorf, publisher of Beyond Magazine, which bills itself as “a magazine about becoming truly human.” It has an active online presence.

Seto hopes the Facebook group will help AMPA promote Read Alberta Month, which happens in October. She also says it might be a way for small publishers to learn how to use Facebook to create no-cost reader forums.

To join the AMPA group, you must be a member of Facebook.com (free to sign up), then search “Alberta Magazine Publishers” to find the public group.

August 3, 2007
Editorial design shop swaps hands
TORONTO—After 42 years of designing magazines, Toronto publication designer James Ireland has decided to take a step back from running his own shop to devote more time to his other passion: painting. Last month, he sold his 25-year-old agency, James Ireland Design, to Dean Mitchell, former art director of TV Guide, and his wife Susan.

Dean Mitchell takes the reigns from Jim Ireland

“In January, we really started hashing things out and seeing if it would work and we both came to the conclusion that, yes, it was good for both of us,” says Dean Mitchell, who has worked with Ireland over the years on several projects including the 1993 redesign of Marketing Magazine.

In addition to Marketing and TV Guide, Mitchell has art directed and redesigned other top publications such as Flare, Maclean’s, Canadian Family and Canadian Business. He has worked in editorial design for more than 23 years.

The Mitchells now run the Adelaide Street East studio under their own agency name, Fresh Art & Design, which they launched in 1991. They’ve amalgamated staff, which now totals six, and clients, including Opera Canada, Imperial Oil Review and several University of Toronto publications (Ireland’s) and Canadian Actors Equity Association and Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto (Mitchell’s).

Ireland, whose work for such titles as Report on Business, Toronto Life, Canadian Business, Maclean’s, Canadian Art and Chatelaine has earned him several design awards, continues to work at the studio part time.
“I just consult and they slip me a few dollars and I’m very happy,” says Ireland. “I would have retired but I’m just not taking all the hard work and responsibility…[and] I paint every minute I’ve got.” Contact: www.freshartdesign.com

August 2, 2007
Cover “prices” react to exchange rate changes
TORONTO—Some U.S. magazine publishers are making small but telling changes to their cover price presentation in an era when the Canadian dollar is almost at par with the U.S. dollar.

Readers have voiced complaints that magazine and book prices do not reflect the dramatic rise in the value of the Canadian dollar (or the dramatic decrease in the value of the U.S. dollar, depending on your view). “Book, magazine prices slow to reflect strong loonie,” went one headline in the Ottawa Citizen recently.

“As the Canadian dollar rises in value against its American counterpart, we might expect the prices of American books and magazines to fall, but somehow they seem not to do so,” wrote Citizen reporter Charles Enman in the June 23 piece.

No surprise there. In a tough newsstand environment, publishers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers are generally loath to reduce cover prices because of exchange rate changes. “My view is that to keep dollar sales buoyant in Canada, for the most part, the last thing in the world most retailers and wholesalers wanted to see was a massive roll-back in cover prices,” says Glenn Morgan, CEO of national distributor Coast to Coast Newsstand Services. “They are already concerned about low-priced magazines.”

The solution? Some U.S. publishers are testing a split-run for their Canadian-circulated copies that includes the regular Canadian cover price, but removes any mention of the U.S. price. The idea is to make the price difference less blatant to consumers. Morgan confirms that Taunton, a leading special-interest publisher represented in Canada by Coast to Coast, is testing the no-U.S.-price cover treatment on its Fine Cooking Specials, Fine Woodworking Specials, and Threads titles, beginning this month.

People Weekly is also rumoured to be testing a similar approach with its Canadian-circulated issues, but this could not be confirmed by upload time.

This new approach, if successful, should please Canadian publishers. It means they won’t have to mimic any price decreases in competing U.S. magazines prompted by the new exchange rates, thus protecting their dollar sales.

Low cover prices are already a controversial issue in the U.S. especially. Major wholesalers recently flexed their muscles by saying they would not distribute a new low-priced magazine planned by Bauer Publishing called Cocktail Weekly. While consumers may love the new crop of low-priced celebrity weeklies battling for market share, wholesalers say they can’t make any money distributing magazines at the $2 cover price range. That was the target for Cocktail Weekly, and Bauer cancelled the launch as result of wholesaler resistance.

The issue is less heated in Canada because of the paucity of Canadian titles in the celebrity weekly category. However, the Canadian edition of Hello! recently dropped its price from $4.95 to $2.99, raising eyebrows.

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