Entries tagged with “Old Mutual”.


In the 2018 Brandz study by Kantar Millward Brown it has created a list of ten most trusted South African brands, a list which includes mainly food products, the 75 year old KOO one of these and right at the top on Trust, and the very new online shopping brand Takealot.com, already ranked third.  None of the country’s largest value brands appear on the top trusted brand list.  (more…)

Last Thursday I attended the #JWCodeBlack promotional event for Johnnie Walker, having received the invitation from Thandeka Nkosi of Khanya PR & Media Solutions, on behalf of its Client Diageo. It is one of the bizarrest events that I have ever attended.  (more…)

Borage Bistro Interior 2 Whale CottageBorage Bistro has been on my list to try since it opened in May, and on Friday last week my friend Judy and I chose it for our lunch destination.  After a hesitant welcome by the waitress, we were well-attended to by front of house manager and co-owner Dennis Molewa, and found a sophisticated haven of German fusion cuisine and service standard.

Dennis told us that three co-owners opened the restaurant in the new Portside Building at the bottom of Bree Street, none of them having any experience in running a restaurant. Major shareholder is Christian Vaatz, a Cape Town based investment manager who loves outdoor eating.  He connected with Dennis, who has lived in Cape Town for four years, having worked for Amazon locally, and originally is from Frankfurt.  Chef Frank Marks is a German Namibian who studied at Silwood Kitchen, and joined Chef Luke Dale-Roberts when he was still at La Colombe, and then followed him when he set up The Test Kitchen. As if that wasn’t enough rubbing of shoulders with our country’s official best restaurant chef, Frank left his local job, and was accepted to do a stageBorage Bistro Dennis and Chef Frank Whale Cottage at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray in the UK, before becoming full-time employed by him at Dinner by Heston in London, spending two years there. working with Chef Heston’s head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, before returning to Chef Luke at The Pot Luck Club.  He likes to study the scientific aspects of food, experimenting with foams and gels, and to (more…)

We have written about six issues of Crush! since it was launched a year ago, and the initial excitement of opening a new copy of the digital food and wine magazine edited by Michael Olivier has faded, to such an extent that three issues of Crush! were sitting unopened in the Inbox.  The magazine appears to have developed a rythym, and regular features can be expected in each magazine, with few new surprises in it.  After reading Crush! 7, Crush! 8, and Crush! 9, and looking back at the pevious Crush! issues, our evaluation is that Crush! has settled down, that it knows where it is going, and that it has mastered most of its technical and design problems highlighted initially.  But its quality remains inconsistent:

1.   The design flashes have been largely removed, having been irritating in initial issues. Yet they remain in the focus on a personality (Squashed Tomato’s Linda Harding in Crush! 7; I’m no Jamie Oliver’s Matt Allisson – nice that the five point overview is about his lifestyle of food writer, stay-at-home father, and avid vegetable gardener – in Crush! 8; and Norman McFarlane in Crush! 9), distracting one in reading the content.

2.  The covers don’t need to sell a magazine as the print equivalent have to, but it was disappointing to note how the cover photograph choice in the last three issues was far more unattractive than those of some earlier issues.  The cover pic is usually one of four recipes developed by Sophia Lindop and beautifully photographed by Russel Wasserfall.  The problem lies in the choice of photograph for the cover, and the placement of text on the pics, often making the text unreadable.  Most front-cover flashes have been removed.  The Crush! design and publishing team has no print magazine experience, and it still shows!

3.  It is easier to navigate the magazine now, with clearer instructions of how to continue reading a story, but one does make the odd mistake in jumping to a next page, and not finishing a story.

4.    A problem that continues is that pack shots in the ‘Essentials’, ‘High Five’ and ‘Quaff Now’ features are too small to allow pack recognition, bad news for the marketers of these products, no doubt paying a placement fee. It was odd to see a sunhat in an ‘Essentials for the kitchen’ collection, in Crush! 9!

5.  Advertising support remains poor, and the state of the economy must be making itself felt at Crush! too, with the last two issues reduced to 42 pages, and carrying very few advertisements – only Old Mutual and Fairview having been regular advertisers.  Insurer 1st for Women started advertising, and Le Creuset and Tokara olive oils have had once-off ads.

6.  The contribution by ‘The Foodie’ blogger David Cope has changed dramatically – from initally having messy looking red-and-white check pages reflecting his blog design, the design linkage has been dropped in the past two issues.  This has been replaced by far smarter looking features, but they have no credibility, as the pot and the knife features have the Chef’s Warehouse branding on them, almost hidden in a corner, and Cope does not declare that he does the Public Relations for the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School!   The photography however is excellent, probably the best ever seen in any issue of Crush!

7.   The main features vary in their quality, and there has never been consistency in their design and quality – the Hermanuspietersfontein feature looks fantastic, with many beautiful photographs.  The Glen Carlou and Hidden Valley features look less attractive due to black and white photographs on the first page of the features.  It seems as if Oliver has run out of material to write about, in featuring Hidden Valley, and Overture’s Bertus Basson, twice in the first year.

8.   Re-opened Massimo’s Pizza Club in Hout Bay is featured in Crush! 9, but does not have enough pizza photographs to create appetite appeal.  The oddest restaurant feature, a six page story by David Cope on Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room, does not contain a single photograph, and it takes Cope three pages to start writing about the Tasting Room, via a profile on Spanish chef Ferran Adria!  Cope did not make notes of his nine-course meal, and therefore he is quite vague about what he ate there!

9.  Recipe features do not interest me generally, but the most stunning feature ever is that of soups paired with Monis products in Crush! 9, including the lesser known Monis Muscadel and Port.  The photographs are outstanding, and one wonders why all the photography used for and design of Crush! cannot be of this quality. 

10.  The features on winemakers Morné Vrey of Delaire Graff and Russell Retief of Van Loveren, on charcuterier Richard Bosman, and on the Steenberg Hotel are ineffective, in being broken down into blocks, some profiles having as many as 27 blocks to click, a guarantee that one would lose interest to read it all.  Chef Christiaan Campbell of Delaire Graff, the Foodbarn, as well as the Vineyard Hotel are also featured.  However, none of the three issues contain a restaurant review anymore.

11.  The ‘Fine Print’ book page and ‘Crushifieds’ remain too busy, although the latter has improved greatly – ‘less is more’ should guide design in these features.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@Whale Cottage

We have written about Crush!1, Crush!2 and Crush!3, Michael Olivier’s digital food and wine magazine, which he launched last year.   As other publications are being launched which embrace food and wine, both digitally and in print, I chose to evaluate Crush!4 against its competitors, putting myself in the shoes of a food and/or wine marketer, deciding where to spend a marketing budget, and as a food and wine lover, deciding where to spend my time reading.   I evaluated Winestyle, TASTE, and Crush!4, all three magazines focusing on food and wine, with a Postscript on Crush!5.

Winestyle

The first (Summer) issue of Winestyle was sent to subscribers (note one does not pay to receive the magazine) in December, and its concept is a most creative and environmentally-friendly “print on demand” one.  This saves the publishers from over-printing, saving paper and costs, and ultimately the environment.  It is published quarterly.  What makes it unique is that a weekly newsletter is sent by e-mail to each subscriber, updating them on food and wine news.  While the brand carry-over is not strong in terms of the banner design of the newsletter (initially I thought the newsletters were from wine consultant Nikki Dumas, who has a similar company name).   This builds brand awareness weekly, and bridges the quarterly print publishing period.

The 88-page magazine is larger than the standard A4 size, and has an attractive cover, although it is not photographed in a vineyard.  The paper quality is outstanding, as is the photography.  Editor Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright is from Warwick wine estate originally, where her mother Norma and brother Mike make excellent wines, and this makes Jenny well-connected to the wine industry.  In her editorial Jenny writes: “It is our intention to help everyone make full use of every wine-drinking day …. it’s your passport to all things enjoyable, to in-the-know wines, delicious and simple-to-prepare food and accessible travel – all in a large, sexy, glossy, collectible magazine”.   The theme of the Summer edition is celebration, and therefore champagnes and sparkling wines are predominantly featured.

Advertising support is impressive for a first edition, and reflects the confidence of the advertisers in the publication, and wine estates Graham Beck,  Glen Carlou, Clos Malverne, Kleine Zalze,  Nederburg, Highlands Road Estate, OBiKWA, Creation, Eikendal, Adoro Wines, Muratie, and Morgenhof have taken full-page ads.  Jenny anticipates having 2500 subscribers by the time the next issue is launched in March.

The editorial content includes a focus on sparkling wine producers in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, including JC le Roux, Simonsig, Villiera, Morgenhof, Cabrière, Graham Beck, Anura, and Sterhuis, and recommends accommodation and restaurants in the area.  A profile on a very casual looking Jean-Philippe Colmant, making excellent bubbly in Franschhoek and importing champagnes, is written by Cape Talk’s John Maytham.  A travel feature focuses on the Champagne region, which is informative and has beautiful photographs.  A food feature focuses on Tapas, with short recipes, and amazing photography by Christoph Heierli.  A Restaurant feature recommends places offering ‘alfresco dining’ in Johannesburg, Durban, the Winelands and Cape Town.   A feature on cocktails has some that call for sparkling wine. The results of a wine-tasting, a panel comparing South African sparkling wines Silverthorn, Colmant Brut, Villiera, Jacques Bruére, and Simonsig, with champagnes Moët & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger and Tribaut Brut Tradition, are featured.  Joint first winners were Silverthorn the Green Man Brut and Tribaut Brut Tradition.  A tasting panel evaluation of the 2010 vintage Sauvignon Blanc of Groote Post, David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner, Neil Joubert, Arabella, Sophie Terblance, Delaire, Diemersdal, Klein Constantia, De Grendel and Du Toitskloof ranks them in this order.  An article on cigars concludes what must be the most excellent food and wine publication available locally now.

I cannot wait for the Autumn edition.  I do recommend that there be more synergy between the magazine and the newsletter as well as its website in terms of branding and design.  Of the three magazines reviewed in this blogpost, Winestyle is the best by far, and we congratulate editor Jenny on this achievement for her maiden issue.

TASTE

Woolworths’ in-house magazine is written and published by New Media Publishing, and they have regularly won ADMag and Pica Awards for Customer Magazine of the Year for it, most recently in 2009.   It costs R20,95, is published monthly, and is sold in outlets other than Woolworths too.   It is A4 in size, with 134 pages, and does not have a statement to describe what it stands for, but its cover photograph represents food.  Wines appear to be a secondary focus.  The editor is highly regarded Sumien Brink, with Abigail Donnelly ably at her side.

Advertisers are a mixed bunch, including car retailers, liquor brands (Darling Cellars, Krone, Bombay Sapphire, Veuve Cliquot, Brand House), watch brands, kitchen suppliers, decor brands, food brands (Lancewood, Lindt), investment companies, a restaurant (Cape Town Fish Market), and accommodation, most of the brands not sold by Woolworths at all.

The editorial content of the December issue includes a Trends feature, and food related trends are featured with beautiful large photographs by Lee Malan and Jan Ras.  Where recipes are featured, they are short and sweet, and do not dominate the look of any page (something competitors House and Leisure Food can learn from).  A Foodstuff feature focuses on products that are sold at Woolworths, but most are non-branded items, and the Woolworths link is very low key. It even has an interview with and one done by Andy Fenner, who writes the JamieWho? blog, a contributor to Crush! issues 2, 3 and 4, but he has withdrawn his support, probably due to his new (not yet clearly defined) involvement with Woolworths, and not wanting to be associated with his friend David Cope’s disparaging Twitter campaign against ourselves, in retaliation to our review of Crush!3.   A chicken feature by man-of-the-moment Justin Bonello, a fish focus by Sam Woulidge, a canapé feature by Mariana Esterhuizen of Mariana’s, a feature on Dewetshof by Woolworths wine consultant Allan Mullins, and a feature on Oded Schwartz of Oded’s Kitchen and his relishes, chutneys and preserves, follow.  Christmas recipes are featured, but are few in number.  Restaurants featured are the fabulous Babel on Babylonstoren (next door to Backsberg), and the heavenly Hemelhuijs.  Blueberries are featured, with recipes, as are Summer lunch recipes.  An exclusive extract from Australian Bill Granger’s receipe book “Bill’s Basics” is featured.  A travel feature by Judy van der Walt focuses on the Dordogne region, and the magazine ends off with a month’s worth of recipes for snacks, lunches, tea time, and suppers.

I hadn’t bought a TASTE magazine for a while, and remembered it to be more attractive and impactful.  The focus may be too much on recipes, and too little on wines.   The features are written by good quality journalists, and could possibly be expanded.   I liked the way Woolworths as a brand is not ‘in your face’ when reading the magazine – in fact I wouldn’t have minded more direct brand-linkage, to know what to look for when next I shop.  There are so many organic and other quality suppliers to Woolworths of fruit and vegetables and other foods, as well as of wines, which could all be the subject of features, not necessarily linked to recipes only.  A “new Woolworths products” feature would be welcome.  For a marketer, TASTE would be an important advertising medium to consider, given its association with Woolworths, and the profile of the Woolworths shopper, with a reasonable disposable income.    There is little carry-over between the magazine and its website.

Crush!4

The digital food and wine magazine Crush! has no print partner, and is haphazard in its publishing frequency. On Twitter the editorial team hint at how busy they are in doing work for the publication, but on average it appears to take them two months or longer to publish a new issue.  The arrival of the new magazine is announced on Twitter and by e-mail, as one has to subscribe to receive a link to it, and is free of charge.

Crush!4  has 44 pages and was published early in December.  It appears to have lost its restaurant reviewer JP Rossouw, and Olivier has taken over writing the restaurant reviews, something we suggested in one of our earlier Crush! reviews.   We are delighted with another of our recommendations that Olivier adopted, which was to let (lady) bloggers participate in his magazine, and he has done so by giving highly regarded blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs from Scrumptious blog a recipe feature, and he has introduced a recipe competition, in which the recipes of bloggers Colleen Grove, Jeanne Horak-Druiff, Meeta Khurana-Wolff and Nina Timm can be evaluated by readers.

The navigation of the pages, and more particularly the content on each page, remains tedious. The front cover looks better, the copy on top of the photograph being easier to read, but it is not yet perfect, especially when one compares the ‘less is more’ covers of the two other magazines above.  Most flashing gimmicks have been removed from the front cover, and have largely been discontinued.   Advertising support is poor, and appears reduced relative to previous issues, and compared to the two other publications above, with only Hidden Valley, Pongracz, Laborie, Old Mutual and Ultra Liquors advertising.

The content consists of a wine page written by Olivier, and features premium brandy cocktails, a vineyard dog, wine finds, a wine myth and an overview of Sauvignon Blanc.  The Essentials page, as before, has products with poor brand recognition, but the names are typed alongside each product.  A Plaisir de Merle feature is a good promotion for the wine estate.  The recipe pages by Jane-Anne Hobbs have fantastic photography done by herself (perhaps she should become the Crush!photographer!), but I could only get to see three recipes (soup, dessert, gammon) – I am sure there were more, judging by the six bottles alongside the opening recipe, and Olivier recommends a wine per recipe.   The names of the wines are not typed alongside the bottles.   The JamieWho? page by Andy Fenner is blocked by a Laborie promotion box, still has silly moving balloon captions, and focuses on Absinthe, Champagne, Hangover Cures, Jardine’s Christmas cake,  and Christmas cocktails.  In two of his mini-stories the copy ends mid-sentence.  The review of Babel Restaurant at Babylonstoren is blocked by a competition box, and one does not know how to close it.  Restaurant names at the bottom of the Babel article are harder to read on the right hand side, especially ‘Cafeen’.

A seven-day recipe card feature by Carey Boucher-Erasmus (a food consultant to the Pick ‘n Pay Cookery School, according to Google) is easy to follow and read, but no information is supplied about who Carey is.  There is no consistency in the colours used for the names of white and red wines alongside the bottles, the white wine names typed in blue (High Five) or in green (Quaff Now).   Sophia Lindop does great food features, but has used herbs in the last two issues (rocket in the current issue and rosemary last time), making it hard to see dishes prepared with these, and thus to have attractive photographs, even if they are photographed by star photographer Russel Wasserfall.   David Cope outs himself as a guest house reviewer, of South Hills, presented on a messy red and white check background which is similar to that which he uses on his ‘The Foodie’ blog.  A summer picnic spead looks good enough to eat off the screen, and is prepared by Luisa Farelo, but there is no indication as to who she is (I could not find any information about her on Google).  The focus on Parlotones wines, named after the group, is fun in having their music videos, but I did struggle to get one to play properly.  I also struggled to find the way to open the Prince Albert feature by Russel Wasserfall, eventually finding it at the bottom right, in the smallest possible type size.  A feature on trendy Artisan Breads tells the Knead story, with colour photographs, and mentions the names of only five other artisanal bakeries around the country – there are that many others in Cape Town alone!  Helen Untiedt’s organic vegetable garden, and a Book Review page conclude Crush!4.

My overwhelming frustration with Crush! is the difficulty of reading it, and the struggle to move forward or to close what one has opened.  The promotional boxes blocking copy remains a problem, which cheapens the magazine and is irritating to have to close.  Perhaps Olivier and the design team can look at Opulent Living’s e-magazine, only 8 pages long but published regularly – it is easy to read, has no promotions, with beautiful photographs – a top class digital magazine!   I was interested to see the Crush! blogger recipe rating, and the low participation is a surprise (the highest vote is by only 100 readers after two months), given Olivier’s claim that the magazine would go to more than 1 million readers!     If I were a marketer, I would not advertise in Crush!, as a digital magazine cannot present a food or wine brand with the appetite appeal that a print magazine can, especially given the poor pack presentation.  I would therefore love to see a print version of Crush!, as it contains lots of good information, and could make for beautiful pages of copy and photography, something one would want to keep.

POSTSCRIPT 8/2

Crush!5 was launched today.  JamieWho? (Andy Fenner) has been replaced by Neil Stemmet, a talented interior designer, and he adds an Afrikaans dimension to Crush!, with all five his recipes in Afrikaans on his “Soutenpeper” page (this is causing a problem for English readers!).  David Cope has lost his name, and is only referred to as “The Foodie”, with no red and white check background to his contributions anymore, and both his article on Paternoster, and on FoodWineDesign in Johannesburg (held in November!!), are long-winded and boring, with few attractive photographs.   Jane-Anne Hobbs (unfortunately) has been replaced by Clare Bock (owner of Appetite catering company, I learnt from Google) in a food/wine matching feature – by chance I worked out how this feature works – if you click on a wine bottle, an appropriate recipe pops up, rather than finding an appropriate wine to match the recipe!   The five food bloggers in the recipe rating section are complete unknowns.  Luisa Farelo (with an introduction in this issue – she is a chef and food stylist) does another feature, this time on Sunday lunches, and the styling is good enough to eat again.  A food and wine events calendar is a good new addition, while a classifieds section probably is not, the ads being so small that one cannot read them.  A feature on The Test Kitchen, and owner and chef Luke Dale-Roberts, is good with great food photographs, as is the one on Jordan Winery, but the labels underneath the bottles are so tiny that one may not see them.  The interview with Bertus Basson of Overture (Michael is a stickler for spelling, but misspells the restaurant name in his introduction) is weird, and probably does not do him a favour.  Advertisers are Fairview, Pongracz, Old Mutual, and Avocado magazine.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: WhaleCottage

We have been critical of Crush!1 and Crush2!,  the new food and wine digital magazine under the editorship of Michael Olivier, respected food and wine guru, as he calls himself on Twitter.   Our opinion has not changed after seeing Crush!3  We are heartened to see that our feedback is being acknowledged and implemented up to a point.   The overwhelming feeling is that the designers are trying too hard to add design ‘bells and whistles’ which distract rather than add to the magazine. This was reflected in the following Tweet on Twitter earlier this week:  “luv your magazine idea but the technology you using is not user friendly. Why don’t you do trad website?”  

We are sad that Michael, a friend for many years, has taken our feedback about the magazines so personally that he has chosen to not comment on our blogposts at all, no longer acknowledges my presence at functions, and has blocked us on Twitter, a rather unprofessional reaction from what we have always believed to be a mature gentleman.

Our review of Crush3! is as follows:

1.   The cover page has appetite appeal, but a new design feature is to show the cover shot change into a dirty used plate, not looking appetising at all.   The photography of this plate of food, from a feature on rosemary, does not come near the beautiful shot which was used for the cover of Crush2!   The type relating to the content runs over the photograph, making most of it unreadable.

2.   We are delighted that the video button has been taken off Micheal’s face on the Introduction page, our complaint of the previous two issues.   Michael also talks on the video without any clanging kitchen noises, as was the case in Crush2!  The Content listing is an improvement.

3.   Advertisers Old Mutual, The Kovensky Quartet of restaurants, Pick ‘n Pay, Pongracz, Arumdale and Welmoed remain faithful, with new advertiser Avontuur.  Arabella wines is no longer advertising.

4.   When reading the Chenin Blanc sub-page on the “Michael says” page, the page rolls down too quickly when one clicks onto the arrow, for one to be able to read the page.  

5.   On the ‘Essentials’ page there are no distracting flashes, and the brand names are typed at each product, but brand and pack recognition for Dalla Cia, Imhoff Jams, Fairview Chevin and Madécasse Chocolates is poor.

6.   The Morgenhof advertorial is visually intriguing but totally spoilt by the Uwe Koetter ring competition block, spoiling the appeal of this page.   The promotional box stays open when one clicks onto one of the four editorial boxes, making it impossible to read the windows about the restaurant, the coffee shop, the cellar and the owner, defeating the object of the exercise.

7.   The double page spread on snoek pate has five beverage bottles on it too, and one can only recognise the brand name of Steph Weiss beer.  Even when “rolling” over the pics of the bottles of Danie de Wet Cape Muscadel, Klein Constantia Rhine Riesling, Douglas Green Fino No 1, and Mullineaux one cannot read their labels.

8.   Andy Fenner’s “Jamie Who?'” page looks as it did in the previous issue, but the flashes are no longer petal-shaped, now being balloons.  The content of these is boring.   One bubble opens onto ‘After Work Drinks’, and three are meant to be featured, but only Harvey’s Bar is visible.   The balloon bubbles flash even when one opens the balloon, giving it a tacky feel.

8.   The “High Five” page is blocked by a promotion “Share the High Five with your friends”.   The Table Bay MCC Brut brand name is barely legible, being light blue.

9.  JP Rossouw has been overseas, so there is no review by him in this issue.  Michael has taken over the role, and has done a feature on La Motte, but once again a competition block blocks the photograph of the grounds and buildings of the “new” La Motte.  One cannot see how to close this block, which incorrectly spells the wine estate as ‘Lamotte’.   The competition does not call the reader to action – it leaves one feeling confused as to how to enter the competition. Whilst the La  Motte pages have three La Motte wines on the page, with unreadable brand names, the placement of the Pongracz ad on the same page seems to be an error of judgement, especially given that La Motte recently launched its own sparkling wine!

10.  The ‘Quick & Delicious’ page is also blocked with a “make sure you are subscribed” block over the week’s recipe cards.  A tiny packshot of Bisquit Cognac is barely readable and when one clicks onto it, it is yet another attempt to get one to subscribe.

11.  The “Cellar for later” page is fine and all wine brand names are clearly readable below the packs.  However, on the “Quaff for now” page, the brand names of the white wines are typed in green, making them barely legible. 

12.   A dreadful old-fashioned burlesque-type typeface is used for the main food feature, being “4 Ways with Rosemary”.  As it is an ingredient, it is not visible in the food shots, other than in its subtle use in the styling.   The information about each of the four recipes in respect of baking time and the number of persons that the recipe serves is barely readable.   This food feature is nowhere as yummy as the Lindt chocolate one was in the previous issue.

13.   David Cope’s “The Foodie” page looks much better than in Crush2!, and has some brand carry-over from his blog with the red tablecloth.  The “Midlands roadtripping” story has little interest to the mainly Cape Town readers.   There are tiny links at the bottom of the page that are barely visible, being so small.

14.   On the “Fresh Summer Food” one dish for Thai prawn cakes can be seen, yet a flash highlights ‘five delicious recipes’.  When one clicks onto that flash, it just enlarges it, and does not reveal the other four recipes.

15.   The feature on The Kitchen restaurant has a collection of photographs to the left, but one cannot see that they are linked to the restaurant story.

16.  The endlessly long “We love Real Beer” feature is blocked by yet another subscription sign-up block!

The design team clearly still tries too hard, making Crush! off-putting to read.  It is also too hard-sell, in pushing its free subscription (most readers would not be reading the magazine if they had not subscribed to it)!  Pushing its competitions at the expense of its own features or of advertisers’ brands is off-putting too, and reduces the value of their brands.   Our invitation to Michael to comment, issued in each of our reviews, still stands.  To read Crush!3, click here. (page 1 of the magazine has not been loading for a week now).

POSTSCRIPT 17/10: We are shocked that Michael Olivier, as editor of Crush!, can endorse a malicious campaign against us on Twitter as of last night, born out of a dinner of the Crush! editorial team, which included Michael Olivier, Sophia Lindop, Andy Fenner (Jamie Who?) and David Cope, in reaction to our three reviews of Crush!.  The driver of the campaign appears to be David Cope (the so-called ‘The Foodie’).  This is a most childish and unprofessional reaction, that one would not have expected from the once highly regarded Michael Olivier. 

POSTSCRIPT 18/10:   David Cope has taken great exception to having been outed, and is now hurling abuse at this writer via e-mail.  Surprisingly Michael Olivier has done nothing to protect his honour and that of his publication.  His broken page 1 has also not been fixed. 

POSTSCRIPT 4/11:  Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) has announced his exit from Crush!  He bases the decision on a collaboration with Woolworths, which has just been signed.   He may be smart in using this as a way out of Crush! to save his reputation, as he was part of the Crush! editorial team that launched the Twitter smear campaign, and is David Cope’s best friend.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

On Friday I received the second edition of Crush!, “South Africa’s finest digital food & wine magazine”, says the e-mail providing the link.  To make sure one knows how good it is, it promises “yet more brilliance for you in this issue” – that is if you thought that the first issue was brilliant!   I did not think it was, and wrote a blog post about Crush1, which respected food and wine guru and Crush! editor Michael Olivier was not happy about, but I am happy to see that he has taken note of some of the feedback (we did invite Michael to comment, but he declined).   Crush!2 is much improved, but it is not there yet.  Let me tell you why:

1.   The cover design of Crush!2 is much better, with barely any distracting design features on it – it reflects the best story of the issue, a wonderful chocolate spread, with the most beautiful photography.

2.   On the “editorial page” Michael’s face is covered by the play button of the video again.  The video was shot in Sophie Lindop’s kitchen while she was preparing the Chocolate article, he says in the video, and one can hear the ‘kitchen clanging’ in the background.   I could only get the video to run halfway, and then it broke off abruptly.  I re-tried it numerous times.

3.  Michael has addressed the feedback about providing details of his editorial team (the button for it being very subtle), and a block can be opened to read this detail – Petaldesign is the design company, with Matthew Ibbotson the Art Director, and Graham van de Ruit responsible for Flash animation.   The Crush! team is thin, it being mainly Michael and his wife on the editorial side, with guest input from JP Rossouw, David Cope and Andy Fenner.   The block is so small that one struggles to read all the names.

4.   A “How to Use this digital magazine” block is welcome, but contains numerous symbols that one must remember to be able to read the digital magazine more effectively.

5.   The magazine has grown to 36 pages, and the multi-page Lindt Chocolate feature is wonderful, proving that the content does not have to be crammed onto one page, which happens on the “Michael Says” page.  On this page, there are 3 book reviews, a focus on a Vineyard dog, “Michael’s Wine Finds”, a focus on Lynne and John Ford of Main Ingredient, and a “Wine Myth”, despite there being numerous other wine pages on which the wine stories could have been featured.

6.   Advertiser support by Old Mutual, Pick ‘n Pay, Pongracz, Arabella Wines, and the Paranga/Zenzero/Kove/Pepenero group has been retained, with new ads for Welgemoed, Arumdale and an advertorial for Spier.  Michael has assured me that Pick ‘n Pay is not the owner of the magazine.

7.   On the “Essentials” page one cannot read the labels on the Dalla Cia Grappa, NoMu and Morgenster Extra Virgin Olive Oil packs, making pack recognition difficult.   If you click onto the packs, they are a little bigger.  A green i-sign provides more information.  When one has clicked on a section to blow up the size, it does not guide one as to how to reduce the size again, so one has to click to a previous page to get back on the page one was on, making this repeat process tedious over time.

8.   The Spier double-page advertorial is weak, in being an illustration of the Spier estate.  One assumes that if one clicks onto each of the “noticeboards”, that one can obtain information.  If, however, one has opened one such information block, and not closed it, one cannot open the next block.    The worst problem about this page is the dominant Uwe Koetter competition announcement, which clashes with the Spier promotion.

9.   The brand names of the wines presented with the recipe for Vegetable Cauliflower Cream Soup are unreadable, with the exception of Glen Carlou.  When one clicks onto the “Rollover” flash, it enlarges the packs a little, but does not make the labels more readable.   Once again, when one has enlarged the labels to such an extent that one can read them, one cannot get back to the full page, and has to go ‘backwards’ to get back to where one was.  A different recipe is matched to each brand of wine when one moves the mouse over it.  However, the Glen Carlou recipe rollover provides no details about serving numbers, difficulty of preparation, and prep and cook times.

10.   The “JamieWho?” page is really odd, in that Michael is clearly trying to add a younger and more hip touch to Crush!.  Blogger Andy Fenner, who recently “outed” himself as being “JamieWho?”, when he relaunched his blogsite, has almost two pages to himself, with his branding in the centre.  As an ueber-brand and marketing conscious person, I am sure he must be shocked at the presentation of his page, with the funny petal-shaped buttons, inviting readers to read his La Mouette review, his muesli recipe, his visits to L’Avenir and Delaire Graff (very disappointing short one-paragraph summaries), and a lovely feature on Roxanne Floquet, the “Queen of Cakes”.  I am not sure if the thousands of readers Michael claims his magazines go to will know who “JamieWho?”/Andy Fenner is, and will be impressed by his involvement.

11.  The “High Five” wine page has the same problem with label readability, as described above.

12.  The “Eating Out” page is interesting in that it is prominently branded with JP Rossouw’s name over two pages, but has a flash in the top right corner saying “The Foodie Fast Eats”, which is a short write-up by “The Foodie” (see below) of the Sunrise Chip ‘n Ranch (I did not pick up that there were mini write-ups about Jardine’s Bakery and Cookshop too, until alerted to these).  However, “The Foodie” has his own pages in the magazine elsewhere.   A review of Johannesburg-based DW Eleven-13 by Rossouw is of no interest to Cape Town readers, probably making up a large proportion of the magazine subscribers.   A competition block blocks the readability of the restaurant review.   At the bottom of the page it mentions four restaurants under the heading “Crush also liked”, listing Blue Water Cafe, Wild Woods, Casa Labia and Foodbarn (the name of this restaurant is barely visible), with only a telephone number and address, but no review, or summary about what these restaurants stand for.  One is not sure if they are recommended by JP or by Michael.

13.  The “Quaff Now” and “Cellar for Later” wine pages have the same problems with pack recognition and branding, but a neat label at each bottle helps one to identify each brand name.  One wonders why this approach is not used throughout the magazine to assist one in reading the pack names, rather than using so many different design styles.  An Old Mutual information block seems out of place on this page, other than to communicate that Old Mutual encourages one to drink a lot, with an inevitable outcome, requiring insurance cover!

14.   The “Quick & Delicious” page has recipes for a week ahead, nicely presented as ‘recipe cards’.   But the content is blocked in part by a block asking if one has subscribed.

15.   As stated above, the “4 Ways with Chocolate” feature is fantastic, with mouth-watering photography by Russel Wasserfall.  One wonders why Russel does not do all the photography for Crush!

16.  By contrast to the “JamieWho?” pages, “The Foodie”‘s pages are a disappointment – “The Foodie” does not receive the same branding and identity treatment compared to that of his friend Andy Fenner, and his pages look more messy and unfocused.  What is a huge surprise is that “The Foodie” is outed as being David Cope, an identity which David has been at great pains to protect.  David’s blog “The Foodie” does not even identify his surname!   David works at a PR agency, and writes for such clients as the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School.   He, like Andy Fenner, likes to hang out at &Union, and one wonders if Michael’s readers have heard of “The Foodie”.   He writes about a Houseboat stay at Langebaan and has a recipe for making “Perfect Guacomole”.  I wonder why Michael has chosen two “man’s men” bloggers to contribute to Crush! when there are many talented (lady) food bloggers who may have far greater credibility and be of greater interest to the readers of Crush!

17.  Crush!2 was sent out early on Friday, a bad day of the week for distributing newsletters, and getting them read.   This is evident by the few comments made about it on Twitter (many Twitter users read their Tweets on their phones, and Blackberry and iPhone do not support Adobe Flash required to open the magazine on their phones).  Also, Crush! does not appear to have editorial deadlines – Crush!1 was a month late in being launched, and this edition was published 7 weeks thereafter, not at the beginning of a month, if it is meant to be monthly or bi-monthly.

My overall impression: the “style over substance” approach to this digital magazine will not win it loyal readers – if only the style were good – and that has huge potential to improve.  Its “journalism” is light-weight,  and as someone said to me: “this is not an online magazine  – it is a picturebook”!  Harsh words, but perhaps he is right.  Crush!2 says it is “Food & Wine with Passion” – the passion is there, but the execution is not yet!

Once again, I invite Michael to comment, which I am more than happy to post.  Read Crush!2

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

South Africa’s first digital food and wine magazine Crush! was launched last Friday, a long-awaited online publication under the editorship of respected food and wine guru Michael Olivier.

Olivier studied at the Cordon Bleue Cookery School in London, has done PR for the Lanzerac Hotel, has owned restaurants (Paddagang, Burgundy and Parks), has been a wine consultant to Pick ‘n Pay, has published books (including one called ‘Crush! 100 wines to drink now’), and presents wine programmes on Classic FM and on FMR radio stations.  He announced the launch of Crush! at the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting in May, with an original launch date of 3 June.  The actual publication date was a month later.

Digital magazines have been published in the United Kingdom for a number of years already, but have not made it into South Africa until now due to the lack of ample broadband capacity.   Crush! is published with software bought from Redonline, a British company which publishes GQ, Tesco, FHM and many other digital titles.  It is available for free to what is projected will be just under 1 million readers, and its production is funded by advertising, sponsorships and product placements.  The advertising rates seem reasonable, at a discounted R 7548 for a double page spread for the first three issues.

For me Crush! is a let-down, not only technically, in navigating the 26 pages of the digital magazine, but also in terms of its content:

1.   Its size is smaller than the full screen size, giving the impression of an A5 magazine, something one takes less seriously than an A4 size.

2.  One has to click to the top right hand corner of the right page to turn the pages – it will take some time for one to get used to doing this expertly, without feeling silly in turning the pages efficiently (luckily I saw a “fools’ guide” to turning the pages at the top left, which shows arrows to the right and to the left).

3.  The cover of a magazine is what sells it – I found Crush!’s cover to be unattractive and far too busy, with all sorts of electronic “nick-nacks” to attract one’s attention, seriously lacking a good design hand.

4.  I missed an “Ed’s letter”, in which Michael should explain what Crush! stands for, remind readers of his background and strengths, and detail who is in his editorial and production team.  

5.  Michael does talk on a YouTube video on the third page, but unfortunately the “play” button is on top of his face, a design problem that can easily be addressed.

6.  Crush! has little advertising, but needs advertising support to finance the venture and to pay the royalties to Redonline.  The Pepenero/Paranga/Kove/Zenzero group, Pick ‘n Pay, Old Mutual, Constantia Glen and Pongracz are direct advertisers.   I liked the more subtle advertorial feel of the Arabella wines page.   The double page spread on Warwick is the most attractive of all pages in Crush!, in my opinion, and while I am sure that it is paid-for advertorial, it is the “cleanest” page, with the fewest “gimmicks” and pop-ups of all. 

7.  Given the cost of setting up such a venture, one wonders if it is Pick ‘n Pay financing the venture, given Olivier’s relationship with them.  

8.   Having been earmarked for launch more than a month ago, most of the copy probably was written at that time.  The danger with a delay is that the information gets dated, and the page written by JP Rossouw is dated in two respects – JP Rossouw’s image has been seriously dented by the reaction to his La Mouette review (read here).  Olivier would have done better to write the page himself.   Secondly, Rossouw chose to focus on La Colombe, and Luke Dale-Roberts, just 2 days after the La Colombe chef announced that he is no longer the Executive Chef of the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurant in the World restaurant!  Ironically, it was Rossouw that alerted the industry to this news, but the information about Luke Dale-Roberts’ relationship with La Colombe was not updated in the two days before launching the publication.  The fact that Rossouw’s Restaurants book is offered for sale on the page commercialises the page and reduces its credibility even further.  When entering the La Colombe competition, I lost the link to the page I was on, and had to go back to the Homepage, and run through all the pages again.   In the running link it mentions, amongst others, that JP Rossouw has reviewed La Colombe, but there is no review!  The next issue of Crush! is to feature a review of a Johannesburg restaurant – while I understand that Crush! is a national publication, reviews about restaurants in other areas have little interest for Cape Town readers, a weakness Rossouw faces with his on-line reviews too.

9.   Alongside a recipe for Salmon Fishcakes, as well as on the “High Five” wine page, the labels of the bottles of the wine options suggested are unreadable.  One is encouraged to click onto each bottle to “roll it over”, but it only pops up with information about that particular wine. 

10.   A profile of Chef Liam Tomlin of the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is disappointing, in that little information is provided on the page, which mainly is filled with a photograph of Tomlin.  If one clicks on a small “interview” button, Tomlin’s answers to a set of questions are provided, hardly giving one a feel for the character and personality of Tomlin, nor of his background. 

11.   Every page has a running script at the top, a little like on SkyNews and other news television stations, distracting one’s attention from the main body of the page.  

12.  The “back’ page refers to an Uwe Koetter competition, and it is not immediately clear that one does not have to do anything to stand a chance to win jewellery.

In general I found Crush! to be too superficial in that it lacks depth; it is too “thin” in terms of number of pages compared to a regular magazine; it is too hard-sell in encouraging one to buy wines via ‘Crush Cellar’ which takes one to Grapefuel, travel (never heard of Pick ‘n Pay having a travel agency), and Rossouw’s book; and it is too “busy” in terms of pop-ups, running messages and buttons one has to click to read further information.  Ultimately, a digital magazine cannot compete with a glossy printed one.  It cannot be kept for future reference, it cannot be displayed on a coffee table, one cannot tear a page out of it, and it does not offer 100 pages or so of reading joy in bed, which a magazine can do.

To read Crush!, click here.  Twitter: @Crush_online

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

The negative impact that the move of the head offices from Cape Town to Johannesburg of BP and Old Mutual has had on the Cape economy prompted the organisation Accelerate Cape Town to create a Vision 2030 for Cape Town.

Sharing the vision with members of the Europa Club this week, Accelerate Cape Town CEO Guy Lundy spoke about the 20-year scenario options that had been created for Cape Town.   The current vision places Cape Town in the “Southern Comfort” scenario, focusing on its mountain and beaches and tourism value.   The desired scenario is called the “Southern Tiger”, which is a high growth senario, that is inclusive of all sectors of the population.

To do so, Lundy said aggressive marketing of Cape Town is required.   Social networks across all population sectors are to be developed, to bridge the divide and bring the diversity of Cape Town together, and to create a hub of “sustainable ideas” and creative thinking in Cape Town.   Lundy said that a better marriage of creativity and hi-tech was also essential for the future growth of Cape Town.