Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bob Moog - a blunt and totally biased view point, May 1977


Update: Michelle Moog-Koussa from The Bob Moog Foundation has posted an excellent commentary on this ad on MATRIXSYNTH. From the comment:
"This is indeed a very cool ad on the face of it, but I can tell you for sure that this was not written by Bob Moog. To those of us who knew him well, this is evident in so many ways." ... "This ad has a slick marketing department's fingerprints all over it, not Bob's".
It explains why this ad is so different from other Moog ads that appeared before it and provides us with an insider's perspective... Seriously - read the whole comment.

Ms. Moog-Koussa - no disrespect to the Moog name intended. It was indeed a slick marketing department.

Moog ad from page 26 and 27 of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine May 1977.

This rare 2-page centerfold advertisement from Bob Moog only ran once or twice, but it brings to light what I think was happening in the synthesizer market at the time: as synthesizer technology became more affordable and new companies and products started coming to market, competition was heating up.

Moog was, in no uncertain terms, defending their turf from the Axxes, Odysseys, CATs, and other synthesizers that were starting to pop up. Like any good leader in a turf war, or like me when I play the game Risk, Moog decided the best defense is a good offense.

And as any good Risk player knows, the best offense takes a multi-prong approach:

Name dropping: If you've read my blog in the past, you are aware that I've crowned ARP the king of name-dropping. In this ad, Moog hits back with a few heavy-weights of their own - including Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer and Walter (now Wendy) Carlos.

Promotion of their technology: Moog bluntly reminds readers not just that they started it all in 1964, but they were first with a number of technologies including:
  • multiple waveform voltage controlled oscillator
  • the balanced, voltage controlled amplifier
  • keyboard with memory and glide
  • four-part ADSR envelope generator
  • polyphonic synthesizer
Promotion of their creative design: I've pointed out in a few posts that ARP was fond of the term 'human engineering' around this time period. Throughout this ad, Moog takes aim squarely at ARP by using the term 'musical engineering' multiple times.

Attacking rumors: I'm not sure when this pots vs sliders debate started bubbling to the surface - maybe there was ongoing rumors or debates in music stores or some of the industry mags at the time - but in this ad, Moog wanted to make it clear to readers that their engineers knew best. And is it just me, or does Moog throw a punch directly at ARP with the line "Just try to accurately tune and all-slider instrument!" ?

Reading this ad in 2009, Moog may come off as arrogant to some, but I think they got the tone just right. The ad starts off with a humorous tone but still lets you know right off the bat that this is Bob Moog's opinion [Update: the company's opinion]. Also, although Moog knows that they were the bee's knees of the synthesizer world, they take the high road and never actually mention any competitor's names in the ad.

That's class!

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