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 MadÃ©casse 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