Monday, June 6, 2011

Roland / Brodr Jorgensen (UK) Ltd embedded 8-page B.J. News promotion, International Musician and Recording World, 1978

Roland / Brodr Jorgensen (UK) Ltd. embedded 8-page promotion for the Jupiter-4, SH-1, SH-7, RS505 and MP600 synthesizers/keyboards, CR68 drum machine, GR500 guitar synthesizer, SH2000 preset synthesizer, and MC8 sequencer from pages 187-194 in International Musician and Recording World, September 1978.


August 3, 2011 update: MATRIXSYNTH just sent word that one of the readers on his blog - transluscent_nick - noticed that the Roland Jupiter 4 on the first page of this ad series must be a prototype!

Sure enough - the synth in the picture seems to have a lot more in common with maybe the screened design/colours of an SH-7 than a production model Jupiter 4.

In addition to the overall cosmetic differences, also noticed the switched-up Roland logo and "Jupiter-4/Compuphonic" text, obvious changes to the VCO section, and a total change-up to the side panel controls.

Great catch!

(The sound you hear is my hand slapping my forehead)


Thought I would try an experiment and scan something a bit different.

Embedded advertising.

You see them all the time now in lots of magazine - usually with a small "paid advertisement" label in small text somewhere, because some regulation exists that says that magazines have to identify these embedded ads as such.

And these embedded ads were quite popular in magazines such as International Musician and Recording World back in the 70s and 80s. In fact, sometimes you couldn't tell when the article ended and the ad would begin. In comparison, this type of ad wasn't seen often, if at all, in American music magazines like Contemporary Keyboard or Synapse.

So, because of the nature of these ads, I've been hesitant to post them even though there is usually some good reference info in them - specs, prices, etc. They are just so dull looking. Although looking back, I think I would have been so hungry for synthesizer info that I would probably read through these types of ads very thoroughly had I been given the opportunity. That was the whole idea - embed the ad into the magazine so well, that at least subconsciously, readers will think of them more like independent factual information rather than as a commercial advertisement or promotion.

In this case, it was eight pages of Roland gear embedded near the end of the magazine - compliments of European distributor Brodr Jorgensen. There's not much to the layout or design. Just black and white pictures surrounded by ad-copy that eventually gets around to giving the reader information about some of Roland's newest products. And that ad-copy wasn't always the most spectacular. In fact, it almost sounds "bloggish" (not that this is really a bad thing, right... RIGHT?):
"So you play rock 'n' roll guitar and you play it loud. So what else is new? You want it hard and fast and raunchy and the amp better not blow up or else. O.K.? Meet GA amps. GA stands for Guitar Amp. Simple isn't it? Roland have built them for guitarists."
Yah. Not the best. Maybe BJ just wasn't used to writing articles. But it gives me hope that I'll be writing for large music magazines in the near future. :o)

Like I mentioned earlier, this kind of multi-page advertising was quite common in International Musician and Recording World (IMRW), both by distributors and even local music stores. Music store giant Chase Musicians would do multi-page promos quite often, and in fact, had a seven-page ad in the same September 1978 issue. But unlike the BJ's focus just on Roland, Chase was promoting a number of different synth companies, including ARP, Moog, Roland and Yamaha. And this multi-page promo was big on photos with very little ad-copy. Much more ad-like.

The January 1978 issue of IMRW had an even larger Chase Musicians promotion that was more "embedded ad" looking. Called "The London Synthesiser Centre Report", the 18-page embedded promo was basically one big series of ads for The London Synthesiser Centre, which had opened the previous summer. The store didn't just sell synthesizers, but also provided modifications and overhauls, demo evenings, and educational courses.

The promo in the January issue was so large that the magazine even gave it it's own call-out box on the cover promoting a "Chase Musicians Supplement". Basically a Chase Musicians ad on the cover, promoting a giant series of Chase Musician ads inside the magazine. Crazy stuff. That's 18 pages of ads in a 202 page magazine - almost 10%. I assume this cost some big bucks.

This Chase promotion is quite similar in design and structure to the BJ News embedded ad. The series of ads/articles are ad-copy heavy, but Chase Musicians takes it one step further, this time peppering the articles not just with photos of ARP, Octave (with a cat of course), Korg, Elka, Roland and Yamaha synthesizers, but also with photos of the managers, employees, and even the bigwigs from distribution companies.

For example, in the Roland section of the promo, entitled "Roland and the London Synthesiser Centre", the first photo are of Amrik Singh-Luther, boss of the LSC, and Brian Nunney, boss of Roland distribution in the UK from Brodr-Jorgensen. The one page article almost feels like it comes across as one big ego trip for Amrik and Chase, and one big suck-up to Brian Nunney and BJ, ending with:
"Brodr-Jorgensen (UK) Ltd. and the London Synthesiser Centre are unusual operations. They are highly successful and their future are inextricably bound together."
Yoiks - I hope not too "inextricably bound" considering what happened to BJ just two years later.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not totally poo-pooing this type of embedded advertising. Like I said above, as a younger lad I would have eating this stuff up since there were just so few places for me to get synthesizer information at the time. One of these multi-page embedded ads with lots of ad-copy would have provided me almost a Keyboard magazine's worth of Spec Sheets and Keyboard Reviews. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like them.

So, back to the experiment. Am I going to start scanning more of these embedded ads? Was this experiment a success?

I'm still on the fence. I have a history of posting distributor's ads, such as Korg ads like this one that appeared in Contemporary Keyboard by distributor Unicord, or the recent BJ ad for Roland. So, theoretically scanning this BJ ad would fall under the same category.

But for some reason I put reseller ads, like most of those for Chase Musicians, into a different pile. Reseller ads are usually just advertising the fact that they have instruments for sale at their store for a certain price - although the Chase Musician's London Synthesiser Centre promos are quite different. They are more like the distributor's promos that are usually advertising the instrument(s) through a marketing campaign of some sort. I just find them more interesting.

More experimentation may be required.

But that is enough for now. :D


translucent_nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
translucent_nick said...

thanks for mentioning the catch about the Jupiter 4 prototype - it really looks like SH-7 - I got a thing for prototypes;), will I ever get well?

awesome blog - thanks for everything

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