Chatelaine magazine redesign results in murder
Metaphorical murder, duh. One of the most shocking changes of the newly redesigned Chatelaine (other than the semi-controversial lack of features) is the death of Robin, the Markham woman found through market research who served as the model reader. In our 2008 piece on the tumult at the monthly, then-acting-editor-in-chief Lise Ravary showed writer David Hayes a sheet of bristol board covered in photos Robin had provided: snapshots of her children, a handbag, Bono, CDs, paraphernalia covering a fridge, an SUV with a trailer, and the inside of both a closet and a medicine cabinet.
“Robin is 37, lives in Markham, and is a representative for a pharmaceutical company,” she explained. “She’s married and has two children. Their combined household income is $75,000 to $80,000, so they’re not wealthy but they have a comfortable life. The last book she read was The Da Vinci Code. Those are the CDs in her car: Alanis, Diana Krall and U2. They rent a trailer and go off on family trips with the kids. She doesn’t have 50 pairs of shoes; she has four or five, and they’re scuffed because she doesn’t have time to polish them….”
Though Ravary acknowledges that Robin can’t speak for every reader, she says that having an actual person in mind does help them decide “how far to go” in their cultural choices. “She trusts us. We’ve never lied to her, and we’ve always made a sincere effort to understand her. If we come up with something she’s never heard of, hopefully she’ll say, ‘Wow, this is cool, I’m going to discover this.’ But we don’t want to make her feel inadequate for not knowing something.”
But according to a Globe and Mail feature about the redesign, Robin has been killed off by new EIC Jane Francisco, who says Robin isn’t “enough to represent what Chatelaine needs to be in terms of its breadth.” Instead, the magazine has adopted a Bill Henrickson-like approach to its relationship: three wives—a 48-, 38- and 28-year-old. But these women will be easier to handle than the ladies of Big Love—they’re entirely fictional.
Updated: May 22, 8:44 a.m.