Monday, February 21, 2011

ARP Odyssey, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

ARP Odyssey advertisement from page 23 in Contemporary Keyboard May 1977.

Odyssey? Or ODDyssey...? <---- See what I did there :o)

At first glace, to me this looks like an ordinary ARP ad.

For example, the ad's format is quite standard - Name-> tag-line-> ad-copy-> logo-> image.

And ARP also keeps to their standard marketing strategies. The company doesn't miss the opportunity to promote their "human engineering" design philosophy - connecting it to their easy-to-read control panel, sliders and switches. And they nicely segue that topic into promoting not only all the accessories available for the Odyssey, but also into their other main advertising strategy: name-dropping. This time including Hancock, Corea, Duke, Winter and Wonder. Musicians so famous that ARP doesn't even have to include their first names.

But as I started to take a closer look at the ad, things started to go all "bajiggidy" on me. And the closer I looked, the more quirkier things became.

I figured it might be good therapy to just list them all out.

1. This is only the second Odyssey ad to appear in CK. The first ad was in the November/December 1975 issue of CK - almost a year and half earlier. Maybe ARP thought that they didn't need to advertise "the world's #1 synthesizer" very much. Not sure you can advertise too much... especially with the limited opportunities available in 1977.

2. This ad only seems to have appeared once in the magazine. As did the previous ad from Nov/Dec '75. As just mentioned, I just don't feel that this is enough exposure to get your message across. And, ARP must have felt they wanted to give this message exposure, because they also put a black and white version of this ad in the May/June 1977 issue of Synapse magazine.

3. The ad is only 2/3 of a page (two columns wide). And it is not like ARP couldn't afford a full page - the company had plenty of full-colour ads in CK on a regular basis, including one for the Pro/DGX in the back-inside cover of this issue. To my eyes, the 2/3 size just squishes everything together with little room for all the elements to breathe. Title, tag-line, ad-copy, logo, copyright, and that colour photo are all just crammed together. Give me white-space!

4. And speaking of that colour photo... it seems a little out of place in this otherwise black and white ad. Why wouldn't ARP splurge and just design a full-colour ad? It just feels off-balanced.

5. The placement of the ad on the page also adds to that off-balanced feeling. The ad is printed such that it is pushed in towards the inside of the page, and I purposely left all the extra white space on the top and right side of the ad so you could get an idea of just how squished it looks.

6. ARP strays away from that main message - "the Odyssey is #1". Out of nowhere, in the final paragraph of text (in a font that is oddly smaller than the rest of the ad-copy), ARP decides to throw in info about a five minute demo record... FOR THE OMNI. Why leave the reader thinking about a totally different instrument at the end of all that Odyssey lovin'?

Okay... breathe deeply...

Boy... after reading back all that bitterness above, I just realized that I must have woken up in a foul mood this morning. Seriously. And I don't know why, but I ended up taking it out on a poor innocent ARP advertisement.

But, looking back at the ad now, it becomes a bit more clear that maybe ARP tried a little too hard to stay on their ongoing marketing strategy in such a small space. This need for ARP to include everything but the kitchen sink in the ad probably caused 90% of the quirks.

But again, even with everything that I think is wrong with this ad, ARP could have done much worse.

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