rooi rose magazine turns 70 years old this month. It’s an extraordinary achievement in the fickle world of women’s magazine publishing. The commemorative gatefold cover opens out to reveal seven covergirls, each representing a decade of rooi rose’s life. At the same time, rooi rose has revisited its web presence, and has launched a travel site too. TheMediaOnline caught up with editor Martie Pansegrouw.
- Quite an ambitious – and stunning – cover. How did the concept come about and who styled and shot it?
It was a team effort. We had many discussions and ideas. The idea for the foldout was proposed by managing editor Hannelie Diedericks and fleshed out in discussions. The idea of seven women was put forward by Suzanne Venter, and gave rise to numerous discussions on who they would be and why. Hannelie co-ordinated the shoots; it was shot in two studios, with Johan Wilke in Cape Town and Leana Clunies-Ross in Johannesburg. Cape Town styling was done by Cornel Dunn and in Johannesburg, styling was done by Suzanne Venter. Linda Ehlers of our layout team was responsible for putting it together and executing the final touches.
- What to you are the most memorable story/stories the magazine has published, the ones that are immortal?
There are so many. We had the last interviews ever with Chris Barnard and Beyers Naude. By the time the magazine was on shelf, they had already passed on, and in both cases it was a fitting tribute to amazing people. Of course there is also the fact the we were instrumental in setting Charlize Theron on her road to fame; she won our Model of the Year competition in 1991 at age 15 and the rest is history.
- Has the magazine had a ‘most embarrassing moment ever’?
Probably the same as with other monthlies: couples that proclaim their undying love on the cover, while in reality they have already split up. One memorable couple was James Small and Christina Storm in December 2000!
- Magazines come and go with alarming regularity. Yet rooi rose is celebrating 70 years. To what do you attribute this long-running success?
rooi rose has endured because it keeps reinventing itself to satisfy the needs and aspirations of its readership. In this day and age it is a crucial talent. rooi rose is an innovator: it was the first South African women’s magazine to go monthly and glossy in November 2000, and the rest followed. In 2010 rooi rose reinvented itself as a luxury size all-in-one women’s glossy.
And in saying that, it still has the appeal it has always had, it speaks to its readers on an intimate, though informed and proudly Afrikaans level. We keep our finger on the pulse of our reader to know what she wants and needs. We created our online Reader’s Forum six years ago and it provides us with instant and direct information on what they like and dislike in the latest issue. We talk to them weekly in our online chatroom where we get information from the reader herself. We also have an ongoing dialogue with our reader on Facebook and Twitter that provide us with useful insights.
- Who is the rooi rose reader now, in the 21st century and how has she changed in 70 years?
The rooi rose reader is ‘everywoman’, a woman of her time, as she’s always been. She is defined by her interests and her lifestyle, not her age or occupation. She shares a heritage of Afrikaans culture, although she is a woman of this global village we reside in. She could be living anywhere in the world, she could be married, attached or single , a young mother or a mother in later life, working, an entrepreneur or a full time homemaker. The things she has in common with other women are the defining factors that bind her soul to her sisters in this Africa we have all sprung from and love, wherever we may be in the world. Our latest amps indicate our inclusive readership (Jan – Dec 2011), showing a 9% growth to 954 000, of whom 33% are coloured readers and more than 28% are male.
- What are the biggest challenges the magazine is facing now?
In this digital age the demise of print has been proclaimed many a time, but we believe the enjoyable personal experience of opening a magazine and tumbling wholesale into the relaxing shared experience offered by a printed magazine will keep readers loyal for quite some time to come. At least until the online experience offers something much more exciting and gripping or the reader changes out of all recognition. For the moment I would say our biggest challenge is the serious inflation experienced worldwide and the rising publishing costs.
- Your new website is stunning. Why did you decide to go specifically with a separate travel site?
Travel is a growing interest in this beautiful country of ours, and Afrikaans readers are also strong believers in the benefits of travelling overseas. We have been struggling to give this growing interest the print presence it deserves in the magazine. Our readers love to travel and to share their travel experiences, and we decided to add to their enjoyment by creating an online community, a hub where they can find useful travel tips, win great prizes and take advantage of our special offers. We are planning, in conjunction with professional and reliable travel agencies and other partners, to offer experiences like our exclusive launch offer of a luxury trip to Buenos Aires in June with myself, the editor. We are also working on a food trip to Mauritius with our food editor Vickie de Beer later this year.
- What happens in your digital chat rooms? Are they well attended? What kinds of things are discussed?
Our chat sessions on a Friday between 11:00 am and 12:30pm are hosted by our specialist editors and often a guest. Topics range from food, fashion, beauty, health, decor, personal finance, relationships and parenting to pets. Readers enjoy the opportunity to talk directly to the experts and we in turn gain valuable insights into their needs and wants. There are also great prizes to be won, and we have a regular attendance of around 75 people. The attendance depends on the topic and the time, as during holidays or before long weekends it tapers off when parents are too busy to log in.
Photo: The covergirls – Actresses Anna-Mart van der Merwe (1940s), Elma Postma (1950s), Nadia Valvekens (1960s), ex-Miss SA and TV presenter Jo-Ann Strauss (1970s), model and TV-presenter Minki van der Westhuizen (1980s), style icon Karin Berman (1990s) and ex-Miss SA and business woman Amy Kleinhans-Curd (2000s) each represent one of rooi rose’s stylish decades.