Masthead News Archives
February 2007

February 27, 2007
Mischievous veteran emerges from retirement
VANCOUVER—Activist, editor and designer Bob Mercer has stepped back into the game to succeed Jacqui Underwood as editor of VLM (formerly Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine).

Bob Mercer, a former editor at The Georgia Straight, Calgary Magazine and Vancouver Magazine, went on the work at the daily Province before semi-retirement in 2003. The SFU magazine instructor returned to full-time duties last month at VLM, where is editor and art director.

Mercer, whose career has included various excursions into the world of graphic design, will also serve as VLM’s art director. He’ll continue to teach magazine publishing at Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication, an arrangement he’s had since 1994. He worked at The Georgia Straight in the 1970s and ’80s (as reporter, twice as editor, and one stint as art director); edited Vancouver Magazine’s now-defunct satellite sister title, Calgary Magazine before succeeding Malcolm Parry as editor of Vancouver in 1987.

In 1989 he joined the daily Province as design editor, was laid off and then rehired as a copy editor. He took early retirement from the CanWest paper in 2003 and, according to a “proto-obituary” he penned for a website, “receives a $288 monthly pension cheque from the sons of Izzy Asper.”

Mercer is indeed a colourful character. He was active in the city’s raucous counterculture movement in the late ’60s and ’70s, organizing sit-ins, protests and penning satirical cartoons and political commentaries. In 1970 he was a founding member of the Yellow Journal collective, and conceived of a slogan contained in the debut issue’s pullout poster—“We’re out to smash capitalism and we mean business!”

No small irony, then, that Mercer is now heading up VLM, a fancy monthly glossy targeting the city’s moisturized bourgeoisie. He suggests that all magazines nowadays target the bourgeoisie. “Like many people,” he says, “I’m essentially embracing Graydon Carter’s formula for Vanity Fair, which is, yes, you run with the glamour and try to get it on the cover but then you get some guts in the guts.”

Approaching 60, he says, it’s only natural that he has undergone a change of philosophy since those early days as a political revolutionary. “I have come to believe more fervently in democracy and that means not getting your own way all the time, and actually trying to build bridges to people you disagree with. And that’s just the difference between a 20 year old and a 58 year old—I hope.”

Still, the desire to provoke remains. He refers to VLM as “Vancouver Liberation Magazine.”

Wait, isn’t it “Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine,” he’s asked.

“Yes,” he deadpans. “I said ‘liberation’ for your amusement…”

February 21, 2007
Torstar broadens ethnic mag mix
TORONTO—After launching Sway magazine for Greater Toronto Area blacks in 2005 and acquiring Canadian Immigrant magazine last year, Star Media Group, the periodicals division of Torstar Corp., has added another ethnic title to its mix.

Torstar's latest offering targets South Asians, whom StatsCan says will comprise Canada's largest ethnic minority by 2017. The controlled-circ magazine debuts this month

Desi Life (pronounced “day-see”) targets Toronto-area South Asians with hip lifestyle content and will compete directly with category leader Anokhi Vibe, which recently celebrated its fourth year with a thick, perfect-bound anniversary issue. Star Media says Canada is home to about one million South Asians, about 60% of whom live in the GTA. The publisher cites Statistics Canada data suggesting that they will form the largest ethnic minority in Canada by 2017. (“Desi” is Sanskrit for countrymen and refers to people from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.)

With considerable cheek, Desi Life’s promotional literature claims that the magazine “will fill a significant gap in the ethnic media market.” One supposes category pioneer Anokhi Vibe would beg to differ.

Category pioneer Anokhi Vibe recently celebrated its fourth anniversary and has a television extension in the works

The upstart standard-size glossy bimonthly will have a circulation of 65,000 and be delivered to target demos within Torstar’s distribution grid as well freely offered at an undisclosed “major retail partner.” A full-page one-time colour ad sells for $7,192. The premier issue debuts this month.

Mississauga, Ont.-based Anokhi Vibe, with a claimed controlled/paid circulation of about 62,000 and targeting the North American market, says it’s in the process of an ABC audit. The ad rate is $2,600 for a one-time colour ad. Anokhi Vibe (“anokhi” is Hindi for unique) says it’s also working on a television extension to air this coming fall in select Canadian and U.S. markets.

February 19, 2007
Rep house to become Web publisher
TORONTO—A Toronto-based advertising sales agency representing a national string of urban weeklies is set to unveil its first media asset—www.theurbantraveller.com.

Here's the ad for urbantraveller.com - Magazine Network's first media asset

Magazine Network, which sells ad space for a string of weeklies and magazines across Canada, will launch the website on Feb. 23. Its purpose is simple. You live in Montreal and you’re going to Calgary on business, say. What are your arts and entertainment options? Urbantraveller.com will link to and utilize content from the Calgary arts-and-entertainment weekly ffwdweekly.com to provide you with information.

The site is designed to inform hipsters traveling to Canadian cities who want to know more about the arts and entertainment scene. Urbantraveller.com will carry links to most of Magazine Network’s existing clients, including Monday Magazine (Victoria), WE (Vancouver), SEE (Edmonton), ffwd (Calgary), Planet S (Saskatoon), Prairie Dog (Regina), Uptown (Winnipeg) and The Scene (London). Coming on board for the Urbantraveller.com initiative (but who are not existing Magazine network clients) are eye (Toronto) and The Coast (Halifax). Where Magazine Network clients have opted out (Montreal’s HOUR, Ottawa’s express), freelancers will provide the content.

“A major feature is the option to subscribe to a national/regional electronic newsletter,” says Magazine Network president Jan Frolic, alluding to sponsorship opportunities. Frolic bought MagNet from ad sales veteran Geoff Dawe in 2000. Dawe, currently on sabbatical from his proprietorial duties at Kontent Media (Inside Entertainment, FQ, SIR) launched the rep house in the mid-1980s.

February 14, 2007
Maclean’s cracks Top 10 newsstand gainers
TORONTO—The redesign that editor/publisher Ken Whyte unveiled in November 2005 continues to strike a chord with the newsstand crowd. Other titles with strong single-copy performances include Canadian Home & Country, Elle Canada, Today’s Parent and Applied Arts.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released its biannual Fas-Fax report earlier this week. The data, subject to final auditing, reports average circulation for the six months ending December 2006.

Within the context of traditional rivalries, some notable individual results in total-paid/verified performance are:

  • Time Canada (0.7%) vs Maclean’s (-2.6%)
  • Elle Canada (28.6%) vs. Flare (0.5%) vs. (Fashion (-12.2%)
  • Wish (+14%) vs. LouLou (English, +4.3%)
  • Canadian Living (+4.4%) vs. Chatelaine (-3.2%)
  • Canadian Gardening (0.8%) vs. Gardening Life (-14.6%)

The charts below show the Top 10 best (and worst) performances, both at the newsstand and in the paid/verified subscription categories. Percentage gains/declines are versus the six months ending December 2005.

Top SINGLE COPY gainers

MAGAZINE

% Increase Actual copies

1. WHAT'S UP KIDS FAMILY

654%

3,844

2. REVUE COMMERCE

102%

964

3. APPLIED ARTS MAGAZINE

55%

2,922

4. CANADIAN HOME & COUNTRY

49%

15,450

5. COTTAGE

44%

4,436

6. ELLE CANADA

42%

34,438

7. WESTERN SPORTSMAN

36%

2,215

8. TODAY'S PARENT

31%

9,417

9. BEL AGE

28%

6,564

10. MACLEAN'S

25%

11,458

Top SUBSCRIPTION (paid+verified) gainers

MAGAZINE

% Increase Actual copies

1. WHAT'S UP KIDS FAMILY

867%

48,606

2. ECHOS VEDETTES

61%

4,346

3. WISH

35%

94,296

4 LOULOU (French edition)

28%

52,827

5. ELLE CANADA

24.4%

96,669

6. OXYGEN

23.6%

61,785

7. FILLES CLIN D'OEIL

15%

21,417

8. DECORATION CHEZ-SOI

8%

55,827

9. SELECTION READER'S DIGEST

6.6%

233,602

10. CANADIAN GARDENING

6.6%

142,110

Top SINGLE-COPY decliners

MAGAZINE

% Decrease Actual copies

1. FLEURS, PLANTES, ET JARDINS

-44%

3,122

2. CANADIAN GARDENING

-39%

11,817

3. GARDENING LIFE

-37%

9,530

4 LOULOU (French edition)

-35%

15,675

5. COOL!

-33%

20,955

6. 7 JOURS

-25%

100,273

7. STAR INC.

-22.6%

20,977

8. OXYGEN

-22.5%

70,124

9. DERNIERE HEURE

-22%

16,266

10. CHATELAINE

-19%

61,971

Top SUBSCRIPTION (paid+verified) decliners

MAGAZINE

% Decrease Actual copies

1. TODAY'S PARENT

-36%

117,713

2. DERNIERE HEURE

-18%

143

3. LE LUNDI

-15%

10,343

4 7 JOURS

-14.4%

2,353

5. FASHION

-13.7%

106,895

6 BC OUTDOORS

-12%

12,079

7. GARDENING LIFE

-10.5%

70,795

8. WESTERN SPORTSMAN

-10.5%

17,035

9. CANADIAN HOME WORKSHOP

-9%

116,019

10. TV HEBDO

-8%

68,675

February 13, 2007
Toro folds in the face of weak ad forecast
TORONTO—When it launched in April 2003, Toro threw a lavish, open-bar party at Toronto’s famous Casa Loma , complete with live music, red carpet and a mingling topless woman swinging tassels from her endowments. Yesterday, in a one-page press release, owner Chris Bratty announced that he is suspending publication. The March 2007 issue will not go to press.

Last stand: The final 116-page issue of Toro (Winter 2006, above) sported a very healthy 48 ad pages

Of the magazine’s 25 staffers, publisher Dinah Quattrin must be especially disappointed after a four-year haul, taking the magazine from a 90:10 ed-to-ad mix in the early days to its last issue (Winter 2006) where the mix was closer to 60:40. “Ironically,” she said yesterday, “the magazine has never been in a better financial position. However, on a year-to-year basis, it continued to lose money.” She declined to say how much but estimates put annual losses well into six-figure territory. Bratty did not dispute an estimate that he has invested more than $6 million into the venture since the launch. “Going into this fiscal,” added Quattrin, “the early predictions from our sales reps and the industry were that this was not going to be a stellar year.”

Tough times experienced by both Ford and GM hit Toro hard, Bratty said. “The prospect of revenue looking close to flat-lining and costs continuing to go up, I decided that instead of revamped stock and cut, cut, cut, that that would be the end,” he said. Bratty noted that key advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal had said “don’t look to us until the end of the year.” Bratty, whose day job is with the family’s real estate development business (Remington Group), found the prospect of two or three consecutively soft quarters in 2007 reason enough to ice his publishing venture.

Casa Loma launch: A tuxedo-clad Chris Bratty addresses a crowd of at least 250 at the magazine's launch party

Toro was always a substantial product, perfect-bound with high production values. A commitment to a minimum page count of about 116 pages and eight-times-a-year frequency, regardless of advertising support, likely contributed to the magazine’s mounting losses. Quattrin confirms that Toro was in talks with two prospective buyers last spring but nothing panned out. Bratty says an investor—or buyer—may yet emerge; he will consider resuming publication at a later date. Bratty is the son of real estate tycoon and lawyer Rudy Bratty, whom Canadian Business ranked Canada’s 79th richest citizen with a family fortune of $344 million in 2003.

Editor Derek Finkle said freelancers contributing to the March 2007 issue have been assured payment in full. Did he see this closure coming? “I saw this potentially coming from the moment I was hired,” he said, having already presided over the demise of the weekly Saturday Night in 2001. He said he thinks the magazine could dramatically reduce operating losses by as much as 75% if frequency and ad-edit ratios are adjusted. A large publisher with resources could get the magazine into the black, he said.

The first anniversary: Celebrating in Toronto's Distillery district in April 2004 were then-editorial director William Morassutti (left), publisher Dinah Quattrin and editor Derek Finkle

BPA/CCAB audit statements for the six months ending March 2006 (the most recent statement) showed a circulation of 181,347 copies, of which 2,747 were qualified paid with the remainder piggybacking issues of The Globe and Mail. Of the qualified paid, 1,505 copies were single-copy sales and 1,242 were paying subscribers.

Bratty will meet with Toro staffers tomorrow. On Feb 23, the magazine’s phone lines will be disconnected.

February 8, 2007
Editors given a how-to PR primer
TORONTO—Would you like to have other media plugging your title? It’s a doable objective if you know how get the attention of busy producer types. A workshop entitled “How to get Your Magazine in the News” offered editors a series of tips on how to do just that.

At a Canadian Society of Magazine Editors luncheon on Tuesday, PR specialist Stacie Smith and Breakfast Television senior segment producer Tracey Howland encouraged editors to take advantage of never-ending media demand to fill air time and news holes.

“What is your magazine’s area of expertise?” asked Smith, who helps pitch Cottage Life content to a variety of media. She counsels editors to identify their books’ strengths and exploit them. And, to ensure that you’re pitching the right outlets, “you need to know which media your readers are watching and listening to,” she added. The key is to realize that your magazine can attain objective, third-party status where bias rules. Dogs in Canada magazine, for example, was positioned ideally to serve as a third-party commentator in the Pit Bull Ban debacle of 2005.

The tips:

  • Make sure your press release is relevant, timely and, where appropriate, fun. For example, a recent issue of Flare contains a review of the best movies for Valentine’s Day. BT’s Howland loved the piece and could easily envision a segment crafted around that, with full credit given to Flare, with a Flare editor hauled in to discuss the picks
  • Don’t be verbose—one page is plenty. Be quick, dirty and fluid. You want to get the producer thinking about how they can build a story around what you’re offering
  • Do include tips, quick facts, bullet points and how-to teasers
  • E-mail rules, said Howland. “Faxing is so ’80s,” added Smith.
  • Promise to bring in visuals. Visual appeal is what will stop channel surfers in their tracks, said Howland
  • Don’t oversell. That is, don’t say you can bring in six examples of new trends in purses (for a Flare pitch to Breakfast Television, for example), and only show up with three
  • Groom yourself as a pundit, but have the humility to realize that if you aren’t an engaging speaker, you’d better become one, appoint a proxy, or forget it
  • Sometimes, even a magazine’s ads will trigger a story idea. In a recent issue of Canadian Home & Country, a full-page colour ad for an antique appliance maker (ovens, fridges, etc.) caught the imagination of Howland, who said she had no idea people were making the damn things. If that vendor were willing to truck in a few of the beasts she’d be happy to broadcast an item about them. Attention ad reps: how’s that for value-added?

Video from the event, which took place at The Design Exchange, can be seen below.

February 7, 2007
Milne fires Sutter
TORONTO—After 20 years with the magazine, Marketing Magazine’s award-winning editorial director/associate publisher Stan Sutter was fired on Monday by John Milne, senior vice-president of Rogers trade magazines.

Marketing editorial director and associate publisher joined the glossy weekly tab in 1986

Senior staff terminations have been the most dramatic changes instituted by Milne since he was promoted last September to oversee all Rogers trade titles. Previously, Milne was responsible for only the Health & Financial Group of magazines while now-retired Harvey Botting oversaw the Business Information Group, which included Marketing. After settling into his new role and getting to know the BIG properties and personalities, Milne began to make changes. In November and December, he fired Marketing’s executive publisher Richard Elliott, a 29-year company veteran, as well as two other long-time B2B publishers and a veteran art director.

Regarding Sutter’s successor, Milne said yesterday that he’s “looking for a replacement.” Meanwhile, managing editor Paul Ferris will serve as acting editor. Elliott has yet to be replaced as executive publisher (Milne is acting publisher).

Milne expects interest in Marketing’s top editorial position will be high. “It’s a great, great job. It’s one of the best editing desks in the country,” he said. “It’s a great brand. It serves a fascinating community, and it’s full of interesting and engaged people who like the brand and do a lot of great things around it. The brand has a huge amount of respect amongst its readership, and I think many editors would love to be part of a community that is that engaged.”

Senior vice-president John Milne

Part of Marketing’s success, it was suggested, is attributable to Sutter, who joined the magazine in 1986, was promoted to editor in 1996 and was named editorial director and associate publisher in 2002. Why let someone like that go?

“I won’t answer that question,” said Milne, “but I will say that all of our brands are bigger than the individuals who contribute to them, and that’s what makes them great. The brands reflect the contributions of many, not a single individual.”

Reached last night, Sutter said that while he was surprised at the turn of events, to a certain extent “I get it…Every publication needs renewal and change, and you’d be a fool not to acknowledge that,” he said. Sutter, a married father of four young children, said he hasn’t got anything lined up at the moment.

February 6, 2007
Magazine readers want eco-friendly papers

The Forest Stewardship Council works closely with Markets Initiative to ensure eco-friendly wood harvesting. Publishers who utilize the "green" stocks can inform consumers of their patronage by slapping this logo in their mastheads
VANCOUVER—Eight out of 10 Canadians say that magazines should be published on enviro-friendly papers, according to a survey conducted by the public opinion polling firm POLLARA.

Currently, 20 Canadian magazine publishers have converted to certified eco-friendly stock, including HoBo, explore, Now and University of Toronto Magazine.

The survey also found that 94% of the 1,964 respondents thought that newspapers should also be published on eco-friendly stock. And 90% of book readers want eco-friendly products.

“The numbers show that Canadian consumer choices involve a strong environmental component,” says POLLARA vice-president Dr. Michael Antecol in a released statement. “That is not surprising as the environment could easily become a voting issue in the next federal election… Given the trends I’m seeing, consumer attitudes regarding environmentally friendly papers not only have significant brand implications but also influence buying habits, particularly for young readers.”

More POLLARA poll results are contained in Trend Report 2007: Environmental Leadership in the Canadian Publishing Industry, a study produced by Markets Initiatives, an environmental conservation organization committed to saving old-growth forests. The report will be released this coming Thursday during Paper Week in Montreal. The report can be downloaded at www.marketsinitiative.org on Feb. 8.

Markets Initiative executive director Nicole Rycroft says one of the most remarkable findings of the survey was that two-thirds of respondents have “more confidence in the integrity” of eco-friendly publishers, and are more likely to purchase an eco-friendly product.

February 5, 2007
LNA compiles magazine market share report
TORONTO—Ever wonder which magazines dominate the most robust advertising categories? Thanks to a novel market share report compiled by LNA Canada, now we know.

Ad tracking firm Leading National Advertisers monitors magazine advertising across 31 distinct categories at most of the country’s largest titles. The largest category—toiletries—represents 23.3% of all run-of-press magazine ad pages. Next is retail advertising at 9.2%. Third: business and consumer services at 8.0%

The charts below show the Top Three magazines, ranked by ROP market share, in the three biggest ad categories. Note that dollar values are a reflection of ratecard pricing, which itself reflects circulation strength. Ergo, having the most ROP pages does not always mean collecting the most revenue. For leaders by revenue, see the asterisks below each Top Three chart.

Magazine Market Share by ROP Pages

Category

Total ROP pages

Change vs. 2005

Value in dollars

Toiletries, toilet goods

10,375

+2.2%

$173.7 million


Top Three Magazines

ROP pages

Change vs. 2005

Market share

Value in dollars

Flare

701

-1.9%

6.8%

$13.9 million

Elle Quebec

700

-1.0%

6.8%

$6.8 million

Elle Canada

631

+21.0%

6.1%

$7.6 million

*Top Three by revenue: Chatelaine ($28.6 million); Canadian Living ($17.8 million); Flare ($13.9 million).

Category

Total ROP pages

Change vs. 2005

Value in dollars

Retail Stores

4,103

+11.4%

$56.8 million


Top Three Magazines

ROP pages

Change vs. 2005

Market share

Value in dollars

Now

461

-7.4%

11.2%

$3.4 million

Canadian House & Home

314

+37.1%

7.7%

$6.3 million

Decoration Chez-Soi

292

-15.0%

7.1%

$1.7 million

*Top Three by revenue: Canadian House & Home ($6.3 million); Starweek ($4.8 million); Chatelaine ($4.6 million).

Category

Total ROP pages

Change vs. 2005

Value in dollars

Business/consumer services

3,554

-3.0%

$57.7 million


Top Three Magazines

ROP pages

Market share

Change vs. 2005

Value in dollars

Now

307

8.6%

-8.8%

$2.3 million

Canadian Business

280

7.9%

-2.5%

$4.9 million

Eye Weekly

219

6.1%

-18.5%

$1.5 million

*Top Three by revenue: Maclean’s ($7.2 million); Canadian Business ($4.9 million); Time ($4.7 million).

February 1, 2007
The case of Swerve vs. Swerve

Before
WINNIPEG—A monthly magazine for gays in Manitoba has finally settled a longstanding trademark dispute with CanWest Mediaworks Publications.

Winnipeg-based Swerve magazine, which launched on a shoestring budget in 1994, never did make efforts to legally protect its name. In October 2005, CanWest applied for the Swerve trademark for a new weekly it was launching. The battle was ignited.

After

Swerve’s board opposed CanWest’s application in April 2006 but after months of negotiations have decided to let the matter drop, stating that “both parties have reached an agreement and we are satisfied with the settlement.”

Last month’s issue of the 6,000-circ title sports the new nameplate—outwords.

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