Every Saturday for the last 16 years, the Weekend Herald's glossy lift-out lifestyle magazine, Canvas has indulged readers with its signature blend of leisurely weekend content while sister lift-out Weekend has given readers a rundown on the weekend's happenings. Now, the pair are joining forces to make a one-stop-shop lift-out for weekend content. We chat with NZME Weekend magazines editor Sarah Daniell about shaking things up.
This is the first major shake up for Canvas – other than design and column updates – since launching with Carroll du Chateau at the helm in 2003. Throughout that time, the media landscape has changed irrevocably, but even as print sales steadily decline industry-wide, Canvas has managed to not just stay at the top of its game, but continue to grow.
The most recent Nielsen National Readership Survey figures (Q1-Q4 2018) show Canvas is sitting comfortably on an average of 300,000 readers each issue – up from 266,000 in 2017.
Canvas is a lifestyle magazine through-and-through. With a carefully created content line-up of features, design, recipes and fashion it has asserted itself from fellow Saturday insert magazine Weekend by offering features and profiles, along with weekend tips.
Weekend has also continued to prove itself to be an indispensable guide to weekend life in and around Auckland, with an average of 306,000 readers each up – up from 259,000 in 2017. Weekend has become known for its must-do weekend activities including weekend backyard project, recipes, puzzles and shopping and wine recommendations.
From 1 June, the two magazines will be combined under the Canvas title, launching the new bumper lift-out in time for Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Long-time Canvas editor Michelle Hurley issued her last edition of the magazine on 24 May, signing off her final editorial with a thank you to long-time feature writers Greg Bruce and Kim Knight – both of whom will continue to work for the new Canvas magazine.
“And as this is my last issue, I’d like to thank them for being the heart of the magazine and for making my job the best I’ve had yet,” Hurley wrote. “Next week, the delightful Sarah Daniell will take the reins, along with a brand new look.”
New editor Sarah Daniell says Canvas is very proud to be a commercially successful magazine so it makes sense to retain the Canvas brand.
“Canvas has always been unashamedly a lifestyle magazine. As the Herald’s flagship magazine we provide premium content that is sophisticated, thought-provoking and we’re in a really great position to feature stories on important issues.
“We’re incorporating the best of both magazines with the new Canvas. It’s the one place you can find the best of both worlds and a singular source for everything relating to the weekend.”
New content includes an ‘Up Front’ section with the latest in fashion, eating, driving and weekend guides. The ‘Take Me To’ section will refer to a particular event on during the weekend, or it may tease to the new travel section further on in the magazine.
Canvas will now feature two pages of travel each week – but it won’t be stepping on fellow NZME publication, Tuesday Travel’s toes. Rather than the traditional travel narrative – which Tuesday Travel covers – the Canvas travel offering will be more whimsical and aspirational, written in an essay format.
A new fashion, style and home section will cover cater to a broad range of tastes, curated to inspire and build on the current lifestyle content. The food section has expanded – and it will still feature fan-favourite food columnist Annabel Langbein. Although with the restaurant review, the new offering also includes a brunch review, a takeaway column and a Saturday ‘brew’ section.
“The Saturday Brew column will be a lot of fun to write. It could be anything from coffee to a Bloody Mary – and we’ll be hunting all over Auckland to find the best drinks we can,” Daniell says.
As with The New Zealand Herald’s premium online offering, Canvas will also be able to publish New York Times material within their pages.
Last editions of Weekend and Canvas on May 25 and the new-look bumper publication launching on June 1.
The timing of the shakeup comes only one month after NZME launched its premium content – and all Canvas content will sit behind the paywall.
“When you start looking at those strategic decisions within a business, things start to fall into place,” Daniell says. “It seemed like a really good time to present the magazine in a way that reflects that premium offering.
“It’s really important not to rest on your laurels. Changes are important because they sharpen your focus and that’s a good thing.”
Despite the incorporation of Weekend into the magazine, Daniell says the new-look won’t change the role Canvas plays in the NZME line-up – rather enhances its appeal for its audiences.
“According to audience feedback, the things they love on the weekend are weekend guides, television and film tips and quality features. We’re still offering our long-form journalism in the new edition.”
The new Canvas will run significantly larger than its predecessor, at 48 pages up from around 32. The larger size and diversification of content could mean good things for advertisers, Daniell says.
“There are absolutely new opportunities for advertising particularly because of our readership demographics. While we bring on a really diverse range of voices for everyone, a big chunk of our readership is the 40-plus, higher socio-economic demographic which is a very attractive prospect for advertisers.”
Daniell says her goal with the new-look Canvas is to continue to grow the audience numbers – with the recent Nielsen figures providing proof that there is still room for growth in print. While she does have one eye on what other media companies are doing with their lift-out magazines, her main focus is on keeping Canvas up-to-standard and playing its role within the NZME family.
“The other magazines in the stable have specific mandates, and ours is broader so we are able to really represent a wide, diverse audience that reflects our community. That’s really vital to us and we want to connect with our readers with gritty material as well as feel-good pieces.”