Monday, October 31, 2005

Lightbulbs and magazines

These have likely reached some of you via the Internet. But fun for those who may have missed them:
Q: How many freelancers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: No one's sure. The ones who can screw them in, we can't afford, and the ones we CAN afford can't screw in a light bulb.

Q: How many production editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one, but that's going to cost us an extra production day.

Q: How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: I can't tell whether you mean "change a light bulb" or "have sex in a light bulb." Can we remove the ambiguity?

Q: How many managing editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: You were supposed to have changed the light bulb last week.

Q: How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: The last time this question was asked it involved managing editors. Is the difference intentional? Should one or the other instance be changed? It seems inconsistent.

Q: How many art directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Does it HAVE to be a light bulb?


No comfort as Statscan confirms cuts

Statistics Canada, in a survey published today about spending in all relevant departments federally, provincially and municipally, confirmed what the magazine industry already knows about -- major spending cuts -- even as overall spending on culture increased slightly.

Federal funding for book and periodical publishers declined 11.6% to $162.1 million between 2002-o3 and 2003-o4. This was attributed largely to drops in federal contributions to the Canadian Magazine Fund and the Book Publishing Industry Development program by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

"All three levels of government spent more on culture in 2003/04 than in the previous year, although the rate of growth slowed in federal government spending," said the report, which can be found at the Statistics Canada website.

In total, the three levels of government spent $7.3 billion on culture, up 4.1% from the previous year. This was slower than the pace of growth of 5.2% and 6.6% in preceding years.

The federal government spent $3.5 billion on culture in 2003/04, up 2.2% from the year before. The provinces and territories spent $2.2 billion, up 4.3%, while municipal allocations amounted to just over $2.0 billion, up 7.1%.

The report provides breakdowns by province, and a history of cultural spending in constant dollars.

Nice, you won't have to change the monogram

The official rebranding of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) to the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) comes next May, but the association is rolling it out already and urging its members to use the new name wherever and whenever.

This still doesn't make PWAC a trade union with all that entails, but interestingly it has signed a letter of agreement with the the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) and its new Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) . The two organizations will pursue projects of mutual interest.

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Comment about charity status

A surprising number of people read the Globe and Mail, and James Adams's piece on Saturday concerning charitable tax status for magazines. If you were not among them, here is the text (please pardon the abnormally long post):

We want your tax dollars:

'Idea magazines' claim they stand little chance against the niche-market glossy. Is charity status the only hope for a good Canadian read?

Globe and Mail, Saturday, October 29, 2005 Page R6

If we give up on the image of you or I curling up on our couches for an hour or two to get into a magazine, well, I think we're giving up a lot.

-- Ken Alexander, publisher of The Walrus

Last week's announcement that Saturday Night magazine was going "on hiatus," perhaps forever, has prompted renewed discussion about the health of Canadian magazines that focus on "issues and ideas rather than things and people," as one publisher describes it.

The ruminations have included speculation on whether one of the country's more prominent issues-and-ideas magazines, Toronto-based The Walrus, will finally obtain the charitable status it's been strenuously seeking from the federal government since late 2002 and thereby avoid (or at least postpone) what has befallen Saturday Night.

A decision was expected out of Revenue Minister John McCallum's office last week. But so far, all Walrus founder, publisher and editorial director Ken Alexander has been saying is that "discussions are ongoing; very good progress is being made" and an announcement should be coming "very soon."

Charitable status for The Walrus Foundation would place the magazine -- which published its first issue in the fall of 2003 and now has a circulation of about 50,000 -- on a par with the roughly 70,000 hospitals, international relief agencies, churches, dance troupes, medical research organizations, museums, political parties and other not-for-profit operations that are allowed to receive donations and give tax breaks in return.

It's not a new gambit for Canadian periodicals. The Canada Revenue Agency has, on a case-by-case basis, given charitable status over the years to a potpourri of not-for-profit magazines overseen by foundations and deemed by Ottawa to have a strong educational thrust (as opposed to being purely "commercial" or "informational"). Among those so blessed are The Beaver, Opera Canada, Canadian Art, This and Canadian Geographic.

The Walrus was banking on receiving such status months ago, not least because its foundation has promised that, in addition to producing a magazine 10 times a year, it will sponsor educational conferences, seminars, literary evenings, debates and outreach programs. Moreover, Montreal's Chawkers Foundation, established in 1988 by Alexander's father, Charles, had earmarked $750,000 from its reported 2003 asset base of $5.8-million to help with The Walrus's start-up, the expectation being that charitable status was just around the corner.

But since that hasn't happened, The Walrus finds itself, on the eve of its second anniversary, in a quandary typical of many not-for-profit magazines that, as one publisher puts it, are driven by "a psychographic rather than a demographic." It has good but not great circulation, especially when compared to such for-profit, consumer-targeted publications as Chatelaine (715,000 paid circulation), Canadian House and Home (250,000) and Gardening Life (95,000). According to the well-regarded magazine consultant D. B. Scott, "50,000 is barely enough to get you paid attention to by advertisers." Moreover, with federal aid packages such as the Canadian Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program only going so far, The Walrus is experiencing revenue shortfalls -- so much so that this summer Alexander was forced to announce he'd be paying freelancers 30 to 60 days after publication, instead of the usual "upon acceptance" or "upon publication."

Magazine publishing in a sprawling country with a population of just under 33 million has always been difficult, not least because Canadian titles, which now number close to 2,500, occupy only about 18 per cent of available rack space. U.S. titles, of course, dominate the remainder: For every Flare we produce, there's their Vogue, Allure, W and Bazaar, for every Walrus (or Saturday Night), a New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and Mother Jones. Still, considerable money can be made in the True North -- the English and French editions of Chatelaine, for instance, grossed an estimated $60-million for Rogers Publishing in 2003 -- but only, it seems, if a magazine's "editorial policy is defined solely in demographic terms," according to one industry veteran.

"It's no mean feat," said another, "for a periodical in this country to get a circulation of 1,000." It's also possible for a magazine to score more than one-million paying readers, something the Canadian edition of Reader's Digest has done pretty consistently. The tricky part appears to be sustaining something with a circulation between 6,000 and 60,000.

Two non-profit magazines watching The Walrus situation with keen interest are Maisonneuve ("Eclectic Curiosity") , which has been published out of Montreal since 2002, and Vancouver's Geist ("Canadian Ideas, Canadian Culture"), founded in 1990. Like The Walrus, each has a decidedly quirky, wide-ranging sensibility and appearance that can't be grasped in a quick flip-through at the newsstand -- a fact reflected, perhaps, by their respective circulations: 10,000 to 15,000 for Geist, a quarterly; 12,000 for the bi-monthly Maisonneuve.

They too have applied for charitable accreditation in the past and both have been refused, Maisonneuve as recently as last March. However, emboldened by The Walrus's efforts, both Maisonneuve's founder-editor Derek Webster and his counterpart at Geist, Stephen Osborne, say they'll be renewing their call for charity status in the months ahead, especially if The Walrus prevails this fall.

Maisonneuve, in particular, wants to triple its circulation within the next five years to attract more advertisers (right now, advertising accounts for about 15 per cent of revenue) and is currently undergoing an editorial review to see if its content should be more national, or more centred on Montreal, or "more of an urban magazine focused on Toronto and Montreal."

Webster originally published Maisonneuve twice yearly, spending $50,000 to produce its inaugural issues. Some of that money came from his father, Norman Webster, a former editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail and Montreal Gazette, and, from 1979 to 1987, the proprietor of Saturday Night. Webster currently oversees the activities of the R. Howard Webster Foundation, which last year reported assets of $109-million and disbursed a total of $5-million to an estimated 200 organizations. Presumably, Maisonneuve's foundation could tap into that largesse if it gets charitable status.

This, however, is a big if, according to Scott. Yes, he acknowledged, the debacle of Saturday Night "may provide some leverage in discussions with Ottawa that certain kinds of magazines could use charitable status." But the business of the Canada Revenue Agency "is getting money, not giving it out," he said, and in the last five years, it's made a point of "clawing back on giving out charity numbers rather than increasing them."

Scott estimates there are more than 1,000 magazines in Canada with circulations of less than 10,000 "and at least half of these are deserving of charitable status." The problem is that most of them are labours of love, produced by staffs sometimes numbering no more than three. "They barely have the capacity to run a magazine, let alone a charitable organization that would meet the educational criteria Ottawa requires," he said. If The Walrus Foundation gets charitable status, "it's going to be a one-off thing, more of a rule change" than any sweeping overhaul of the Canadian magazine regime.

For Geist's Osborne, the collapse of Saturday Night was entirely predictable. Admittedly, by being inserted 10 times a year in the National Post, the glossy avoided "the huge sums going into subscription support, often as much as the revenue" that most commercial magazines spend. However, because Saturday Night was part of a for-profit corporation (St. Joseph Media), its revenue stream came almost entirely via advertising -- "a mistake," Osborne opined.

The publishing mandates of magazines like Geist, Maisonneuve and The Walrus require "a diversity of writing styles, artistic agendas and contributors," he added, whereas the Style at Homes and WeddingBells of this country require a more formulaic approach. That diversity, in turn, calls for the availability of an equally diverse range of financial instruments, especially if the country wants sophisticated, well-researched stories written by well-paid contributors and published in readily accessible magazines. As Maisonneuve's Webster noted: "It's hard to get a genuine magazine culture going in this country if everything is operating out of a basement."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Oldies but goodies

An interesting article in the New York Times about the broadening sales clout of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). It's a lesson in cross-marketing and brand development that ought to be taken seriously particularly by agency people who dismiss anyone over 45 as "wrinklies", not worth paying attention to.

Long known for its magazine, which has a huge circulation (AARP has an astounding membership of 35 million) and major advertising reach, the association is now spending US $10 million to promote its new product lines, ranging from AARP branded products in drugstores to an investment fund designed for the needs of the over-50s. There may be an elder-friendly cellphone service. And luggage designed for easy handling and opening. All of this cannot help but plump up the magazine, which is a major benefit of membership. (The Canadian equivalent is 50 Plus, the official publication of the Canadian Association of Retired People.)

The NYT article notes that some 10,000 U.S. boomers turn 50 every day, and they are entering their later years with bulging wallets and a sense of adventure. The AARP's new, more aggressive posture is drawn from an understanding that boomer seniors are more healthy, more active and more demanding than their predecessors. With this comes some shift in emphasis editorially.

"AARP's monthly magazine now comes in several versions: one, with articles about fitness or pre-retirement investing, goes to members in their 50's, while another, with articles about managing money and staying fit past retirement, goes to older members. (50-Plus does much the same.)

AARP's annual "lifestyle" conferences (the conference this year, originally scheduled for New Orleans, was canceled) now include concerts by artists like Smokey Robinson and Queen Latifah, corporate booths giving away goody bags, even mixers for singles in attendance.

New kids on the Maclean's block

Lest you think that Maclean's is to be put out by a skeleton crew after more than a dozen senior people were shown the door, Editor-in-Chief Ken Whyte has made a flurry of announcements about people he has hired:
  • Nicholas Köhler as Associate Editor effective November moving over from the National Post where he has lately been a crime reporter
  • Cathy Gulli as Assistant Editor effective October 26 who worked this past summer as a general assignment reporter for the National Post, having previously worked for National Post Business magazine as an assistant editor
  • Colin Campbell as Assistant Editor effective October 31. For the past three years, he's worked for the New York Times Canada bureau in Toronto.
  • Brian Morgan is Deputy Art Director. He was previously with The Walrus. He served a brief stint as a designer at Saturday Night, with Leanne Shapton and Jason Logan, then worked with Digitopolis in Vancouver before coming to Toronto in 2003 and working at Concrete Design Communications before moving to The Walrus. He also had a hand in the design of the daily mag Dose for CanWest.
  • Jason Logan joins the art department as Designer on November 15. He most recently worked as art director of Seed magazine in New York. Previous stints were at The Walrus and Saturday Night (when it was a weekly insert in the Post).
  • Nancy Macdonald joins as an intern based in Vancouver, working for bureau chief Ken MacQueen.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Is Chatelaine crossing the line?

Media in Canada reports that Baxter's Soups has a campaign running in subsequent issues of Chatelaine, complete with perforated stitch-in recipe cards opposite the full-page ads. So far, no big deal. But the interesting phrase that jumped out of the report (bold-face emphasis added) is the following, quoting Ed Weiss, media director at The Brainstorm Group, the Toronto-based agency behind the deal:

"Each issue will have a different theme," says Weiss. "In December, it's holiday ideas and February will have a winter theme. We worked with Chatelaine's own food editors and photographers to create the ads. We wanted it to appear like an advertorial."

New frontiers in magazine promotion

Zoo magazine has run afoul of the British Advertising Standards Authority for its promotional contest to win breast augmentation for some lucky reader's girlfriend. Read more about it here in The Guardian. Zoo, published by Emap, is one of the many "lad" books flourishing in Britain.

The CapeBretoner gives up the struggle

Blair Oake, the publisher of The CapeBretoner magazine, has announced that the magazine will cease publication effective with a final, December 2005 issue. It's a great loss. The magazine has struggled for 13 years to maintain itself as a publication for people who are Cape Bretoners, or wish they were.

Advertising was always a problem, particularly given that more than half the audience was scattered across five time zones (as Cape Bretoners went "off island" to get good paying jobs in places like Toronto and Fort McMurray). The magazine relied upon its owners, City Printers of Sydney, to provide a home and a subsidy. They decided this could not continue any longer. There is no word yet if the subscription database of about 4,100 will be fulfilled by another magazine, as is sometimes the case in such a closure. City Printers has chosen to take the highly unusual (and honourable) step of to refunding unusued portions of active subscriptions.

The magazine's website contains the same message that is published in the October issue of the magazine announcing that, more in sorrow than anger, the magazine will cease publishing. It means that an estimated 17,000 readers will find themselves without a magazine that was a special mix of history, folklore, quirky commentary and island lifestyle. It operates from Sydney, Nova Scotia on an island (really, a peninsula, since it was joined by a causeway) that has suffered from high unemployment and de-industrialization. While the magazine had a lot of loyal on-island advertisers, there was never enough to sustain the magazine. There was virtually no national advertising simply because the magazine was so small and served a market that advertisers didn't want to reach.

What The CapeBretoner had was a modest, loyal readership and, as in other such circumstances, they don't have much of a say in what happens to their magazine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What's up with Canada Post and People magazine?

The Oct. 17th issue of People magazine on page 155 had an ad for Canada Post's "Ship-in-a-click" service, an ad we haven't seen in most Canadian magazines. True, People delivers a large Canadian circulation. But doesn't it rankle that the postal monopoly supports Time Inc. rather than titles that invest in Canadian content? On the other hand, it provides leverage and an excuse for Canadian titles to go after Canada Post for similar support.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A copy is a copy is a copy...or is it?

For those of us who have accepted as holy writ that paid, subscriber copies are the gold standard for this business, there are now some fairly heavy duty voices that aim to knock us out of our complacency.

Take for instance this startling article by consultant Rebecca McPheters in the October 10 Media Industry Newsletter (subscription required). It argues that advertisers (and, by extension, publishers) should pay less attention to the methodology of distribution and more to whether the magazine actually gets the readers editors and advertisers want. (This is part of the larger argument about ROI and also relates to the value of public place copies.) I have boldfaced a couple of thought-provoking passages.

It’s Time to Call A Copy A Copy…

by Rebecca McPheters
Media Industry Newsletter
October 10, 2005

After weeks of waiting for the other shoe to drop, it would seem that the contents of an entire shoe store have now been dumped at the doorstep of the publishing industry – all because of arcane and rapidly changing criteria about what differentiates “paid” from unpaid subscriptions. It’s time to stop the insanity and call a copy a copy. Why should advertisers care about whether a copy is paid or unpaid, much less how much was paid for it, or who paid for it - if the copy delivers engaged readers who are appropriate targets for their ads? And why should publishers waste time, energy, and huge sums of money to document and manage to these metrics that are unrelated to the value offered by their publications?

The value magazines offer advertisers – just like the value offered by television, radio, the internet, et al – is in their audiences. Consequently, if advertisers are going to be concerned with issues relating to magazine distribution, their concern should be whether or not copies get into the hands of consumers. Audience data will provide the information needed on how many consumers and which consumers actually read the publication. The concept of paid circulation is no longer relevant and is causing a huge misallocation of resources in an industry with plenty of other problems that should be more pressing. Advertisers don’t negotiate television based on the number of TV sets or the amount viewers pay for programming. Internet advertising is not evaluated based on the number of computers or how much users are paying for the content.

All too often, advertisers are using current circulation metrics to negotiate prices downward, irrespective of the advertising value being offered. Shame on us for allowing this to occur! Shame on them for offering incentives for publishers to reduce the value they deliver to advertisers. As a result, publishers now find it almost impossible to realize price increases commensurate with either increases in cost or improvements in audience delivery. In the last 6 years, the number of readers-per-copy (RPC) across our industry has increased by a whopping 20%. This represents an enormous increase in the value provided to advertisers. Nonetheless, publishers have yet to reap any discernible benefit from this trend.

The concept of paid circulation is a costly anachronism that we can no longer afford. Just as it distracts publishers from more appropriate concerns, it similarly distracts print buyers. A truly horrific example of this can be seen in the debate currently raging about the value of public place copies – almost surely a major contributor to the industry-wide increases in RPC. When used appropriately, public place copies can generate as many as 50 readers per copy, in contrast to 4 or less for a typical individually served subscription copy. Even allowing for differences in composition, copies generating 50 readers can be counted on to produce several times as many readers in virtually any target group as a single subscription copy.

Similarly irrational perspectives are being applied to discrete categories of subscriptions that in many cases can be shown to provide readers substantially more desirable than the average. A recent analysis that we have undertaken for Synapse, a leading marketer of magazine subscriptions, has shown that their CAPS, partnership and sponsored programs – all now requiring special disclosure on ABC statements – generate readers who are substantially more affluent, better educated and more likely to be in professional or managerial occupations than average readers. Furthermore, these readers also score well on involvement measures.

Editorial resonance and distribution practices are the key drivers of audience. Indeed, if an editor loses touch with the intended audience or if a magazine is distributed in such a way that it fails to reach readers, these things should and do show up in measured audience. The key to whether distribution is valuable hinges upon whether it ends up in the hands of consumers, generating readership among individuals who are targets of the magazine’s advertisers. A better question than whether an individual has paid for a copy or how much they paid is whether that copy was in fact distributed in such a way that it reached readers. A system of reporting net copies distributed would be more meaningful than one based on paid circulation. In any case, it is measured audience that will provide the ultimate test of whether a publisher’s distribution practices are indeed appropriate.

Promises of just-in-time readership measure

McPheters and Company, a consultancy in the U.S. has announced the development of a new readership service called It is said to give advertisers and agencies up-to-the minute measurement of the circulation and readership of the top 200 titles (by circ) in the States.

We shall see if such a system is a) more widely applicable, b) picked up by advertisers and agencies (so far only Starcom has signed on) and c) can be applied north of the 49th parallel.

Canadian Family gets new publisher, editor

This from Media in Canada:

Canadian Family adds two

The St. Joseph Media family is growing. The media company has named Carina D'Brass Cassidy as publisher and Lisa Murphy as editor-in-chief of its consumer pub, Canadian Family.

D'Brass Cassidy was most recently VP of sales and marketing at Avid Media, overseeing sales, sponsorship, and other brand extension projects for titles Canadian Home & Country, Canadian Gardening, Outdoor Canada and Canadian Home Workshop. Murphy comes from Chatelaine where she was special projects editor, as well as managing editor for

Waiting room yuks

Stitches, the humour magazine aimed at doctors, owned and published by trade publisher CLB Media, announced some time ago that it would launch a spinoff, Stitches for Patients. That was due to roll out this summer, but now expected in January.

Stitches itself is funny the way Reader's Digest is funny (in a"Life's Like That" and "Humour in Uniform" way) something that's not always to everyone's taste, but certainly popular with doctors. The magazine depends almost entirely on advertising from big pharmaceutical companies and the content is mostly crudely drawn panel cartoons and columns written mostly by doctors about funny things that happen with their patients (remember that the next time you're up on the table with the paper covering). Stitches for Patients is expected to be more of the same, but reflecting the patients' perspective. That likely means hilarity flowing from backless gowns, proctology, Viagra and childbirth....

Time wasters of the new century

Get back to work!
This, quoted from an item in Advertising Age:
U.S. workers in 2005 will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years* reading blogs. About 35 million workers -- one in four people in the labor force -- visit blogs and on average spend 3.5 hours, or 9%, of the work week engaged with them.

(*emphasis added)
Of course Canadians are so much more sensible.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dishing from the newsrooms

A new blog that may bear watching: Dirt. Find it here. The anonymous contributor(s) promise lotsa gossip-mongering, but without the $120 a year tha e-Frank costs. That remains to be seen. Curiously, while the contributors stay behind the curtain, they forbid anonymous comments about their items. (Ed.: Shurely not!)

Premium content given a pass at the Globe

Of possible use to publishers who are wrestling with the "free vs. paid" connundrum about their own website content, consider the experience of the Globe and Mail. Last year it launched its Inside Edition, whereby a lot of web content (columnists, financial stuff) was segregated behind a pay wall. Even subscribers to the print product had to pay. And what was the result? According to a recently circulated memo by Globe editor Edward Greenspon, a grand total of about 11,000 people have signed up for the "premium service". That's less than half of one per cent of the Globe's readership. Perhaps all the work on "adding value" is an investment in the future, but for now it looks like a lot of money spent to gain not very much. Plus cheesing off the loyal subscribers to the paper.

The blue glow lingers longer

If you ever wondered why people have less time to read magazines, it's because of a staggering long-term trend in watching television. Seems a commonplace observation, but we were struck by the following table, courtesy of the Center for Media Research, which shows U.S. household and individual television watching trends since 1950. The average household has the TV on more than 8 hours a day and the average individual watches more than 4.5 hours. (To put that in context, most people now sleep less than 7 hours a night.)


Year Homes Persons 2+
(Sept-Sept) Avg. Hrs:Mins per day

2004 - 2005 8:11* 4:32*
2003 - 2004 8:01 4:25
2002 - 2003 7.55 4.25
2001 - 2002 7.42 4.18
2000 - 2001 7.39 4.15
1999 - 2000 7.31 4.06
1998 - 1999 7.24 4.00
1997 - 1998 7.15 3.58
1996 - 1997 7.12 3.56
1995 - 1996 7.15 3.59
1994 - 1995 7.15 4.02
1993 - 1994 7.16 4.03
1992 - 1993 7.12 4.06
1991 - 1992 7.05 4.06
1990 - 1991 6:56 N/A
1989 - 1990 6:55 N/A
1988 - 1989 7:02 N/A
1987 - 1988 6:59 N/A
1986 - 1987 7:05 N/A
1985 - 1986 7:10 N/A
1984 - 1985 7:07 N/A
1983 - 1984 7:08 N/A
1982 - 1983 6:55 N/A
1981 - 1982 6:48 N/A
1980 - 1981 6:45 N/A
1979 - 1980 6:36 N/A
1978 - 1979 6:28 N/A
1977 - 1978 6:17 N/A
1976 - 1977 6:10 N/A
1975 - 1976 6:18 N/A
1974 - 1975 6:07 N/A
1973 - 1974 6:14 N/A
1972 - 1973 6:15 N/A
1971 - 1972 6:12 N/A
1970 - 1971 6:02 N/A
1969 - 1970 5:56 N/A
1968 - 1969 5:50 N/A
1967 - 1968 5:46 N/A
1966 - 1967 5:42 N/A
1965 - 1966 5:32 N/A
1964 - 1965 5:29 N/A
1963 - 1964 5:25 N/A
1962 - 1963 5:11 N/A
1961 - 1962 5:06 N/A
1960 - 1961 5:07 N/A
1959 - 1960 5:06 N/A
1958 - 1959 5:02 N/A
1957 - 1958 5:05 N/A
1956 - 1957 5:09 N/A
1955 - 1956 5:01 N/A
1954 - 1955 4:51 N/A
1953 - 1954 4:46 N/A
1952 - 1953 4:40 N/A
1951 - 1952 4:49 N/A
1950 - 1951 4:43 N/A
1949 - 1950 4:35 N/A

Source: Nielsen Media Research
N/A - Not Available
*through 9/18/05

Thursday, October 20, 2005

They're at the post

Canada Post is offering visitors to its website the opportunity to subscribe to magazines. Not just Canadian magazines mind you. When you go to their site, it links you to individual magazine subscription sites, including dozens of members of Magazines Canada. However, click on the Home and Garden category and the very first magazine that pops up is Architectural Digest, from Conde Nast.

Still, a useful service, if for now only a pilot project until December 31. If enough people buy into or from the service, it will roll out permanently in the spring. All Magazines Canada members get posted free, according to a member bulletin.

Oh, THAT Saturday night

There, on the CNN website was the news, just minutes after the announcement was made by St. Joseph Media: Saturday night is dead. Wow, this must be a bigger story that we thought!

Turns out the item, with eerie coincidence, is about the wasteland that Saturday night television has become in the United States.

Maclean's goes digital

Maclean's has launched a fully digital edition, which you can apparently try free, from Zinio. It seems to be the only Canadian magazine to have taken the plunge into this online system, which has hitherto been heavily weighted with skin books, car books, hobby books, technology and outdoor. To see the Maclean's offering, go here.

Saturday Night -- was this its ninth life?

St. Joseph Media just killed Saturday Night magazine (October issue at right). Faced with the daunting task of weaning it off its controlled distribution through the dwindling National Post (the contract is coming to an end, anyway) and the extraordinarily expensive and difficult prospect of taking it paid, the company decided to discontinue it. This, despite the valiant efforts of Gary Ross and the Saturday Night staff to redirect and revitalize the franchise. It's a damn shame. And it seems highly unlikely that it will rise again (despite past experience).

Update: here is what St. Joseph President Donna Clark said:
“Despite a superb editorial product under the leadership of Gary Stephen Ross, advertisers’ support – although favourable – has not reached projected levels,”
explained St. Joseph Media President Donna Clark. “At this time we do not see a path to profitability for Saturday Night. Given our numerous growth opportunities and business priorities, we are placing Saturday Night on hiatus.”
Update II: Go here for a history of the magazine, appended to Mastheadonline's item about the magazine's closure.

Update III: Here's the take from

The good, the bad and the ogle-y

Matt Haber weighs in on the American Society of Magazine Editors' Top 4o magazine covers of all time in the New York Observer and, for good measure, reveals that there was a selection of the 40 worst covers, too. Nice part is that there are links to the offenders. (Remember, these are all American covers; it is never acknowledged that any other country, Canada, U.K, Australia, the European continent and so on, produce magazines that might like their share of the fame, or the infamy.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Loyalty is in the eye of the terminator

Did Maclean's, which has recently had a major purge of more than a dozen long-serving employees, see the irony in their October 19 cover story about loyalty in the workplace? Apparently not.

The Treasury Board made me do it

Today, a packed roomful of concerned individuals, mostly involved in circulation, gathered at the Courtyard Marriott in Toronto to hear about the impact from the Department of Canadian Heritage's decision to cut Publication Assistance Program (PAP) support November 1.

While doubtless there will be a fuller report in Masthead and elsewhere, here are some notes jotted down at the time:

Michael J. Fox, the Senior Vice-President of Circulation for Rogers Media Publishing, took the room through a demonstration of just what impact a shortfall of $11 million will have: essentially, a transfer of 11 - 18 cents a copy for postage from the government program to publishers of consumer magazines. He said the PAP cuts may cause:
  • Big cuts in other costs like freelance and content payments and printing
  • A freeze on selling subscriptions (as a way of saving money)
  • A consequent reduction in circulation (and possible reductions in what advertising can command for that circ)
  • A restart of the conversation about alternative delivery systems (alternative to the current Canada Post Corporation monopoly)
  • A faster switch to digital editions (he noted that with its anniversary issue, Maclean's is the first Canadian consumer magazine to offer a fully digital edition on the Zinio system)
  • Closure of magazines
  • A reduction in frequency
  • A over all damper on growth
Fox said that the typical response from bureaucrats was "raise your price", which is unrealistic in an era of price deflation, multiple media choices etc. He showed examples of typical small-, medium- and large-sized magazines generally getting less revenue and fewer orders with price increases. With a heavy note of irony, he added: "If you're going to cut your circulation in half, go for it!"

"This is a change in government policy," said Fox, noting that nobody knows what will happen after April 2006.

He said that people had to stop calling PAP a "subsidy". It's really a "reader-driven incentive", he said, to create new content, make it more widely available, meet the expectations of Canadian readers, reach those who want to read Canadian content and invest in developing new kinds of compelling content.

Perhaps signalling how the the industry will be approaching the government, Fox said that he felt far from cutting PAP, there should be a new"Reader Development Fund" of $10 million.

Then it was Gordon Platt's turn. Platt, formerly the literature officer of the Canada Council, now the Acting Director General of Policy and Programs for the Department of Canadian Heritage, repeated his assertion that the industry knew the cuts were coming as early as 2003. Sheila Copps, then the Minister, said that support for larger magazines would decline by up to 30%, he said.

Then he went on to enumerate some good things that Heritage has done for the industry recently:
  • negotiating the lowest rate increases from Canada Post in years
  • undertaking a comprehensive program evaluation of PAP and the Canada Magazine Fund (not yet published, he noted)
  • Maintained the $65 million funding for PAP (about $20 million of which goes to community newspapers)
"However the industry and DCH and Canada Post Corporation (CPC) share a collective challenge; how to live within our means," he said. "This program is not indexed."

"We are faced with a number of questions," he said. Among these:
  • Should there be 1,200 - 1,300 periodicals? "Do 1,300 titles cohere to our core mandate, or are some less essential?"
  • Can DCH consider helping startups and newer ventures and then "weaning" people off programs (after they're on their feet)?
  • Should the concentration be on supporting editorial, rather than delivery?
"We've tried to be everything to everybody in the past, although controlled circualtion titles wouldn't agree." The changes that started to be introduced in 2003 reflected a changing emphasis of government policy, a skewing of support based on size and other criteria -- support of aboriginal publishing, agricultural publishing and community newspapers and a decline in support to larger publishing entities. "The announcement (of the PAP cuts) of September '05 is consistent with that policy," he said.

He added that there are a number of dilemmas, including:
  • the program is not indexed, and the Department of Finance was dead set against indexed programs, going back as far as the 1980s and early 90s.
  • There are competing priorities, particularly between the program as it was and the policy to support more diversity of choices.
"The program is between a rock and a hard place...where should it slide? Towards diversity, or towards support of large, well-established titles? The 2003 announcement moved that slider and we're just being consistent with where that marker moved," he said.

Platt said the department didn't have a fixed view and that he was there to listen. "Every group says there's a better way to square the circle. Big publishers said we should have spread the cuts more widely; small, diverse publications said no way. Our role as public policy people is to play the role of Solomon in this."

"We think the PAP has a very healthy future. It's a very successful program and a model for other programs," Platt concluded. (Terry Sellwood, the General Manager of Quarto Communications, the publishers of Cottage Life and Explore magazines, said: "Gordon, if the PAP is a model for other programs to follow, then we're in deep shit.")

Platt acknowledged, in answer to a question, that while DCH had run some scenarios for its own use, it hadn't done a comprehensive impact analysis, one that would say how many magazines might close, what it expected was the outlook for government policy and what the steady erosion of inflation might do to the program in the next 5 years.

Update: Should have mentioned this session was co-sponsored by Magazines Canada and the Circulation Marketing Society of Canada, a commendable cooperative venture, useful to the whole industry.

But what to you REALLY think, George?

George Lois, the man who launched some of the most memorable and (to use an over-used, but apt word, iconic) Esquire covers of the 1960s, ripped into the industry yesterday with a speech deploring the "boring, adoring, butt-kissing magazine covers" of today. Here is the link to the report in Advertising Age (where you can also download the text of Lois's speech.)

Above is one of Lois's best-known covers, of Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian. Lois has an eponymous website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Design can't be left to designers

"This is what judging magazines comes down to. Put any sampling of the great and the good together, feed them proper coffee and posh biscuits and they will soon favour the magazine with the most expensive advertising in it."
So says David Hepworth in an amusing piece about magazine design and judging, published October 10 in the Guardian. Hepworth who, in addition to being an author (The Secret Life of Entertainment) and the magazine columnist for the Guardian, is editorial director of Development Hell Inc., says design has to be judged against practical considerations.

Any judgments of magazine design are made in the context of a marketplace, not a conference room. Does it appeal to enough of the people in that market? Do they recognise what it is? Once they get it, do they find it easy to use? Next to such stark considerations, talk about aesthetics is just flim-flam. "I suppose it's all very well if you're a 14-year-old girl," said one of my fellow judges, dismissing a magazine aimed at 14-year-old girls.

Hepworth lays down his "five key prejudices" about magazine design (and goes into some detail about each. See the article):

1 The person in charge of design is the editor.

2 All magazines are picture magazines.

3 There is no such thing as a picture that doesn't need a caption.

4 Designers are apt to wriggle out of practical problems.

5 A cover must appeal to a moron in a hurry.

"Any designer who finds these conclusions just too "fwightful"," said Hepworth, "can probably get a job on some glossy quarterly mailed to the friends of an art gallery and printed on squares of lino - leaving the rest of us to pursue our tawdry trade."

Single copy system to get a workover

Andre Prefontaine of Transcontinental is heading up a Magazines Canada task force about single copy sales in this country, according to a report in today's Mastheadonline. Prefontaine says that the situation needs study in depth, which is probably true, but makes it sound like this has never been done. In fact, an excellent and in-depth report was done in 2003 for Canadian Heritage by Abacus Circulation Inc. Taking Back the Rack (which followed up on an earlier Abacus report Back of the Rack) pretty thoroughly defined the issues facing Canadian magazines. Would be worth reviewing before anyone reinvents the wheel.

Prefontaine's stated goal is to get all the players around the table. If he succeeds it will because he is able to break down one of the significant problems for this industry --that the newsstand wholesalers and distributors tend to see the business through a much different prism than the publishers.

For instance, if you want to see a wholesaler turn purple, explain to him that a principal reason a publisher goes on the newsstand is to troll for new paying subscribers. Further, tell him that publishers don't make any money on newsstand copies and the top of his head will come off.

Product placement: view from the dark side

The Canadian Advertising Research Foundation (CARF) is having a breakfast and morning seminar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto on October 26 on the topic "Product Placement: Is it Worth All the Hype?" For editors and publishers who want to know what advertisers and agency people are thinking (as who doesn't?) this might make an interesting opportunity, though you won't have any change from $100.

Panelists include
  • Frank Zazza, CEO, iTVX, New Rochelle, NY
  • Luc Cormier, Vice-President Co-Director,Cossette Media
  • Annie Touliatos, Director of Product Development and Marketing, Nielsen Media Research U.S.
  • Dr. Charles Leech, Executive Vice-President Qualitative, ABM Research Inc.
  • Kevin September, CEO, Sticky
You can go here to find out more.

The apocryphal guidelines

Real Media Riffs from Media Post (you can subscribe, free, here) reports that there were several clauses that did not make the cut when the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) drafted their just-released advertising guidelines:
FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 18, 2005--The American Society of Magazine Editors has released revised guidelines for editors and publishers of consumer magazines. It is the 13th edition of standards issued by the influential editorial group, and covers some new trade practices not previously addressed by the society, such as product placement in editorial content. Like the content of the magazines they represent, the new guidelines are shorter and easier to read than previous editions, and have been honed down to just ten basic statements governing the dos and don'ts of magazine church and state. However, the Riff has learned that the final version was winnowed from a larger first draft. Here, for the first time, are the new guidelines rejected by ASME.

Church. Editors are forbidden from speaking directly to members of the magazine's sales staff during mass, on the Sabbath, or on any high holy day. If editors should overhear a sales pitch, they should immediately be anointed with holy water, or, at the very least, issue a genuflection.

State. Editors must use this verb anytime they lift quotes of a news source directly from a company press release. Example: "The New Yorker has the highest editorial standards of any magazine published today," stated Target Chairman and CEO Robert J. Ulrich.

Advertising-To-Editorial Ratios. The percentage of advertisements in consumer magazines should not exceed United States Postal Service guidelines for printed matter. Advertising sales departments should resist the urge to pressure editors to integrate surplus demand into editorial pages. That is the job of public relations executives.

Lunches. It is permissible for magazine editors to be wined and dined by advertisers over lavish meals at expensive, four-start restaurants, but if the client picks up the tab, the editors are required to run a negative story about the advertiser's product or brand. If the client does not pick up the tab, the editor has the prerogative of running a negative story about the advertiser's product or brand. It is considered bad form for editors to order the lobster.

Watermarks. Shaded or translucent advertisements depicting a brand logo or icon should never be superimposed over editorial pages. To remove a watermark from an editorial page, scrub vigorously with a solution of one-part baking soda, two-parts vinegar. Allow to air-dry.

Positioning. Missionary is acceptable. Doggy-style is not.

Bleeds. Advertisements may be printed to the extreme borders of an advertising page, but if they touch or otherwise come in contact with an editorial page, the magazine should be tilted backward and have constant pressure applied to its nose until it stops.

Blasphemous Adjacencies. Advertisements should not be placed or sold for placement immediately before of after editorial pages that discuss, show or promote the desecration of the Koran, the Bible, the Torah, or any known religious scriptures.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Redrawing the "church and state" line

The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), basking in the warmth of the American Magazine Conference in the Puerto Rico sun, have unveiled a revised set of guidelines about advertising. It is something of a 10 Commandments, boiled down from a much longer document that used to be used.

Like the old guidelines, however, the new ones call for anything that resembles editorial copy to be labelled to keep from fooling readers. However it is softened somewhat, allowing the term "promotion" to be used as a label in addition to "advertisement". It accepts sponsorship of non-recurring editorial features as long as they're marked as advertising.

The full text of the new guidelines can be read here.

Mark Whitaker, Editor of Newsweek and President of ASME, said of the new guidelines: "ASME is hoping to continue to be the conscience of the industry, without giving everyone a headache."

People tops the Ad Age polls

People magazine has been named Magazine of the Year by industry bible Advertising Age. Since no magazines from anywhere other than the United States were considered, it is really the American Magazine of the Year.

The Top 5 were as follows:
  • People "For first anticipating, then foreshadowing and these days still flourishing amid a celebrity sector that's beginning to looke downright imperial in its expanseion, People seized the A-list's top spot."
  • Real Simple "By now, Real Simple has relegated its doubters to a space-saving dustbin. Mor importantly, it continues to expand the brand and attract huge numbers of readers and ads with such a crisp and consistent engaging product that it could only be created by a supercomputer."
  • US Weekly "Last year's Magazine of the Year could not be budged from the A-list despite competition from People above and rising In Touch Weekly and Star."
  • More "Editor Peggy Northrup has kept the magazine fresh, partyly through its first redesign in six years. Big advertisers have embraced it despite their infatuation with the younger crowd..."
  • Glamour "A slip in total circulation and a larger decline in newsstand sales can't erase the stellar year that Glamour has had. This summer it surprised many by walking away with the biggest prize at the National Magazine Awards."
  • The next 5 were Teen Vogue, Runner's World, O, The Oprah Magazine, GQ and The Week.
  • Three of the top 10 are from Conde Nast, two from Time Inc., with one each from Wenner Media, Meredith Corp., Rodale, Hearst and Dennis Publishing.

Will there be aftershocks from Kraft move?

Many Canadian magazines, particularly in the women's service category, rely heavily on packaged goods advertising. So there are bound to be tremors caused by reports that Kraft Foods Inc. is restructuring its North American operations and having the company's Canadian business answer directly to its Illinois, U.S. headquarters. The move may have significant implications for pages and dollars.

For instance, Kraft is one of the largest volume and most sophisticated buyers of space in such magazines as Canadian Living and Homemaker's, two of Transcontinental's largest titles and the largest circulation Rogers consumer magazine, Chatelaine. Also the French equivalents -- Coup de Pouce, Madame and Châtelaine. Virtually any magazine, from Today's Parent to Canadian Geographic which get any Kraft ads for Cheez Wiz, Planters or Miracle Whip may feel a similar twinge of anxiety, particularly if the American parent's approach and preferences vary from that of Canadian-based marketers.

(The impact may be less on the custom publishing side, where Toronto-based Redwood Custom Communications has the contract to produce both What's Cooking in Canada and the Americanized version Food and Family in the U.S.)

The Globe and Mail reported that, after decades of operating separately from its U.S. parent, Toronto-based Kraft Canada Inc. will be integrated into the main U.S. operation in January as part of a continental strategy to reduce costs and streamline the corporation. Kraft's 84-year-old Canadian operation has 7,000 employees and spread across 16 plants spread across Ontario, Quebec and B.C. Kraft is one of the world's largest food manufacturers, with 97,000 employees around the world. The Kraft product line ranges from frozen pizza to Maxwell House coffee and from Post Cereals to A1 Steak Sauce and dozens of other brands.

Susan Davison, a spokeswoman for Kraft Canada, said the shift will create a “North American structure, as opposed to a Canadian structure and a U.S. structure,” she said. About 250 positions will be cut from Kraft's commercial division in North America, which includes the company's marketing arm.

Kraft says it plans to retain much of its marketing presence in Canada. About 80 per cent of its brands are offered in both Canada and the U.S., however products such as Shreddies and Nabob coffee are uniquely Canadian because they are only sold north of the border. “There are different marketing strategies, different consumer insights we have in Canada for our brands, which is why it's important we maintain the marketing function in Canada,” Ms. Davison said.

"Industry watchers said Kraft had been a bit of a laggard in adopting a more continental strategy," said the Globe story, "noting that many companies have gone that route since the advent of North American free trade."

“I'm actually surprised Kraft has taken so long because most of their competitors, Procter & Gamble for example, have had a fairly strong set of reporting lines to the U.S. for some time now,” said Doug Reid, a professor of strategic management at Queen's School of Business. “The border is artificial in so many ways and for multinational corporations it doesn't have to exist at all. In many respects it probably shouldn't.”

This is not much comfort to account reps for Canadian titles who have spent years developing relationships and working out multi-page contracts and value-added deals with Canadian Kraft marketers.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The game's back, where's the magazine?

Leafs Nation, the magazine of the Maple Leafs hockey team fan club, was custom published until it was suspended when the season was suspended last year. Now that the teams are on the ice, is St. Joseph Media going to bring the magazine back? It was a pet project of Greg MacNeil, who has been gone from St. Joe's for a few months now. Perhaps enthusiasm for the project left the building with him.

Moving pages

Siemens Corp. announced at a European trade fair this week that it is only two years away from marketing paper-thin TV screens that could be stitched into high end magazines. Probably only affordable at first for high impact ads in upscale publications, the materials now cost about C$70 a square metre, but that is bound to come down. It would allow moving pictures and flash animations on the page.

Siemens spokesman Norbert Aschenbrenner is quoted in a story in today's Guardian newspaper saying that the new screens can do everything a regular TV screen or computer monitor can do, but cost a fraction of the price. "The technology makes it possible to put moving images directly onto paper ... at a cost that would make it economical to use on everything from magazines to cigarette packets ... where the moving images would give more detailed instructions than any photo could ever do," he said.

"The images are in colour, and can broadcast anything that can be shown on a regular flat screen monitor or TV, although with a slightly lower quality." These could be short film clips or flash animations.

The company believes there will also be a market for using them for simple computer games which could be given away free in magazines.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hurry up and wait

Mastheadonline reports that Federal Finance Minister John McCallum is "still considering" an appeal by The Walrus of its turn-down for charitable status. Publisher Ken Alexander is keeping mum but says he's hoping for something next week. Reading between the lines of McCallum's spokesman, it would seem the government wouldn't actually change the antiquated, impenetrable charity law, but would treat magazine-based applications on a case-by-case basis.

We hope you noted mention in a comment to an earlier item that the Senior Designer of The Walrus, Brian Morgan, has jumped over to Maclean's, replacing Gary Hall who was terminated last week.

"It's stylish and hip"

The era of the branded feature (as what used to be called advertorial has come to be called) is blossoming, judging by an article in Media in Canada about a deal featured in the current issue of 2 magazine. (You'll remember that 2 was one of the magazines started a couple of years ago with a $75,000 cash injection by the Ontario Media Development Corporation.)

2 is for young, hip, urban couples. The 2's Coffee Table Dinner Party spread features products available from Grocery Gateway, the online grocery delivery business now owned by Longo's.

Food brands such as Dr. Oetker, Knorr and Pillsbury -- all found on Grocery Gateway's site -- are featured within recipes. A virtual grocery aisle has been created with all the ingredients for those wanting to recreate the spread's perfect coffee table dinner party. Last week, the idea was promoted on CHUM's Breakfast Television.

"This promo is really driven by brands with content integrating on the back end," says Diane Hall, 2's publisher and president. "We shopped the whole party from Grocery Gateway and we offer this feature as an added value to our advertisers. Contextual selling is what they're buying. It's stylish and hip."

We would like to hear more about that "back end".

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Quote unquote

Somewhat off topic, but delicious nonetheless, a profile by Rachel Donadio in the New York Times Book Review of October 9 about Joan Didion (sparked by her new book The Year of Magical Thinking) refers to Didion writing essays for the Saturday Evening Post in the late '60s: "It was a great place to work," she said, since it was about to go bankrupt and "you could do anything."

A collector's item, perhaps?

The unhappy denouement of the startup magazine Zi is reported in today's Mastheadonline. It seems the front end costs were so high that the publisher has decided before the first issue comes out that there is not going to be a second. Proof once again that a business plan is the best investment a new publisher can make -- a proper and conservative analysis would have avoided such a nasty, and depressing, surprise.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hope springs eternal

There are a number of magazine categories in which, despite many false starts, there is a perennial belief that the problem is simply not finding the right formula. Canada is a hard place to start certain kinds of titles. Sports is one. Men's fashion is another. As Samuel Johnson said of second marriages, it is a triumph of hope over experience. The impending launch of Sir, as a spinoff from Fashion Quarterly by Kontent Communications is the most recent example. But it may be the exception that proves the rule. It is being started cautiously as a twice-a-year line extension of FQ, it is being done by people who have a track record (Geoff Dawe and Shelagh Tarleton), and perhaps the market is now ready to support such a book.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Well, maybe just one more termination...

It can't be entirely a coincidence that, a few days after Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Ken Whyte assured the Maclean's staff that there would be no more terminations, Deputy Art Director Gary Hall was shown the door. Staffers who remain at the magazine will doubtlessly draw their own conclusions about the value of any future assurances that their Publisher makes.

It also can't be entirely a coincidence that Hall's termination happened immediately after the fat 100th anniversay issue was published. Hall had held the fort on all of the day-to-day art direction of the magazine since newbie Art Director Christine Dewairy arrived and closeted herself to work out a total redesign, presumably to be unveiled in time for the black tie 100th anniversary dinner on November 15. Having got the big 'un out the door, Hall became expendable. He probably also carried the taint of having been brought to the magazine by the ex-AD Donna Braggins.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Coming to final arguments

The case of Robertson versus Thomson, the 10-year marathon legal fight fronted by Heather Robertson against the Globe and Mail concerning digital rights to freelance work, comes before the Supreme Court on December 6.

Robertson has sent a letter of information and thanks (for their ongoing support) to the Periodical Writers of Canada (PWAC) inviting Ottawa-area writers to attend as spectators. This is an important case, with far-reaching implications. The big battalions argue that their paltry fees give them the right to store, post, archive, re-sell and generally do whatever the hell they want with the work of freelancers. Robertson's courageous crusade (and, after 10 years, it deserves that term) is a class action on behalf of everyone who believes in author's rights.

It hurts more when it's true

Jon Stewart's recent demolition of a panel of magazine industry stuffed shirts in New York was probably deserved. It was reported by Simon Houpt on Monday in the Globe and Mail (regrettably, subscription required).

If you have enjoyed the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, like me your recurring question is why anyone would agree to sit down with him or his team given what invariably happens. Didn't it occur to anyone that the pompous topic (Laughing Matters: Magazines Celebrate Humour) provided just the right platform, with editors from Time, Vanity Fair, Men's Health and Cosmopolitan sitting there as fat targets?

Time did give a reporter's notes to the government. Consumer magazines are quite often shameless shills for the commercial interests. Obvious targets. But what caused a lot of seat squirming and was perhaps the most wounding remark was that Stewart dismissed magazines and the print industry as irrelevant. When Graydon Carter, one of the roastees and Editor of Vanity Fair, attempted a defence, saying that magazines break stories that TV rips off, Stewart agreed: "I didn't say you don't have your place. I said you're at the children's table."

Ouch. Even from the master of "fake news" that's hard to take, particularly when there is so much evidence that it is true.

Shameless plug III

If you are overcome with the desire to start a magazine, start here or click on the link at the right. This is a reminder about a new course called So You Want to Start a Magazine? It's two days at Ryerson University in Toronto heavy on practical tips, tricks and tools to get that new magazine idea started right. Next session is Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12 from 9 to 5 each day. Application deadline is Friday, November 4. Tuition of $475 includes a fat binder of helpful information and templates. Feel free to pass the link along to anyone in the grip of a magazine idea.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Are you smart and competitive enough?

Another new quarterly lifestyle mag rides out of the west (Calgary) called Zi, due to be launched later this month. It's the creation of a woman from Calgary called Zinat H. Damji. The publisher says she is a Tanzanian-born entrepreneur who was "the first female in Canada to found a non-depository trust company". The magazine's web page is here.

The magazine says it is designed to appeal to people...

  • aged 18-34 (male or female)
  • technologically savvy
  • drawn to competition
  • fashion conscious
  • sophisticated
  • not just smart, but truly intelligent
  • an original

Addressing this target audience, Ms Damji describes them as "hardy and adaptive" future leaders. "We want Zi Magazine to be an extension of you. A kind of mentor and motivator in print. We hope it is fun, sophisticated, intellectual and visually appealing."

Distribution is to be 75,000, of which 40,000 will be falling out of the Globe and Mail and the National Post at selected addresses. The remainder will be on the newsstand, which will mean the new glossy's actual circulation will be something in the range of 50,000.

A relatively unusual twist is that the magazine has created a foundation to give four $10,000 scholarships to deserving 18-34 year olds who put their name forward by registering (no subscription required) and providing their contact information and e-mail addresses.

Sell my stuff or I'll kill this magazine

At the egghead end of the magazine and advertising business, it is the done thing to talk in every conversation about "accountability", ROI (return on investment) and ROO (return on objective).

Most magazine people are too busy putting out good publications and searching out new readership, but there is an intensifying pressure from agencyland for the medium to prove its claims of effectiveness in pushing product, particularly in relation to other media. Gone are the days of "image" advertising (in case anyone hadn't told you). When 60-70% of our consumer and trade income flows from advertising, this is a game that we all have to play to win. It's no longer enough for advertisers to believe that advertising or magazine advertising works. They want proof.

In yet another attempt to provide such proof, the Magazine Publishers of America today released a downloadable 20-page white paper called Accountability: A Guide to Measuring ROI and ROO Across Media. It is a review of various kinds of research from the field, and has some interesting, if crashingly predictable, things to say about advertising, and magazines.
  • Advertising usually works better than expected
  • Advertising in several media at the same time improves results
  • When you reach saturation in one medium, advertising in another can improve results
  • Each medium in the mix contributes to results in its own way
  • Magazines excel at increasing "purchasing intent"; 64% of which is attributed to magazine advertising
  • Magazines and the internet affecte "positive brand favourability" the most
What we particularly like is that, in this discussion, some wonderful terms crop up, including "advertising decay rate" (the rate at which advertising impact on results declines over time) and the "halo effect" (the effect of 'sister' brands in a corporate portfolio on results for the brand being studied).

A miscellany

Things you can learn from reading of the classified ads:
  • Somebody is planning a new, apparently controlled circ, guidebook for theatre-going in Toronto called Evening Out. It says it is going to be distributed in 370 locations across the Greater Toronto area.
  • Vogel Publishing of Edmonton, which has been struggling to diversify away from its successful but doomed Satellite Guide and similar books, now calls itself Captive Multi-Media Group Inc.
  • New Dreamhomes & Condominiums magazine of Toronto has found a way to sell more premium positions, announcing in its media materials that it now has MORE COVERS. (We thought you could only have three, or four counting the front cover) Now if they could only reengineer and have the entire magazine upfront and with right hand pages only, advertisers might be really impressed.