Monday, July 12, 2010

Linn Electronics, Inc. LM-1 drum machine ad #2, Contemporary Keyboard 1981

Linn Electronics, Inc. LM-1 drum machine advertisement #2 from page 27 of Contemporary Keyboard May 1981.

I'm writing this post on World Cup day, and although I haven't been a very loyal fan in the past, I've slowly been getting caught up in the storm because of a few friends wearing orange lately. And since I'm a classic knee-jerk kinda guy, I have to automatically cheer for the opposing team - so... Go Spain!

Game time is in half an hour, so I'm going to keep it short.

Like many of the teams playing in the World Cup, Linn had been slowly gaining momentum with their LM-1 advertisements. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, you only have to compare this second LM-1 advertisement, known by it's creator as 'the gold ad', to Linn's first LM-1 ad I blogged about last week. It ran immediately after its predecessor, from about February to May, 1981.

You see, I'm a big fan of 'iteration'. When my CEO comes to me and says we need to rebuild our Web site, I don't spend three years building a totally different site. Instead, I'm constantly analyzing the current state of the site, looking at what works and what doesn't, making small changes over time. The marketing people hate this because they don't get to write a big news release, build a big new advertising campaign, and write ten pages of speaking notes for our call centre. But, users of our Web site love this because it allows them to stay familiar with the site while I slowly make changes for the better - over time, and with little budget.

You can definitely see that Roger Linn and the ad's designer, Eric Wrobbel, did a similar thing. They took a look at the original ad, discussed what might need a bit of tweaking, and kept the momentum moving forward while maintaining all that LM-1 advertising goodness.

As you can see, here's a couple of those tweaks...

1. Colour! I don't know what the cost difference was between a black+white or a colour ad in 1981, but it was definitely worth it. Unlike the LM-1's first ad, this one pops off the page.

2. The 'Real Drums' tag line also jumps out at you in this ad - it's the first thing you read. As much as I like the funky font used in the black+white version of this ad, the font style, and it's placement behind the photo of the instrument, made it blend in with the rest of the ad and I felt my eyes had to go looking for it.

3. The name of the actual LM-1 is moved from its awkward position to the right of the photo into the much-improved tag-line - "The LM-1 Drum Computer - a new breed of rhythm machine'. Much better than the old tag-line - "Here's the most amazing rhythm machine ever!". Everrrrrrrrrr! :o)

4. The best part of this advertisement is the introduction of an early version of the Linn logo. If you are a regular reader, you know I'm a big fan of logos like those of Oberheim and Aries, and I have to say that Linn's logo can sit proudly within this esteemed tattoo-worthy group. Especially noteworthy is the symbol sitting to the left of the 'Linn' name, effortlessly merging both the musical and technical aspects of the company.

Eric Wrobbel, the creator of the ad including the logo, includes a bit of history about Roger Linn and the evolution of the logo on his Web site:
"The symbol used ahead of the Linn name was an amalgam of a musical whole note with the technical symbol for a transistor inside of it. To the rest of the world it just looked like an “O.” Roger quickly tired of being called Mr. O’Linn and we changed it..."
Brilliant commentary! Gotta love the backstory. I know I do.

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