Monday, October 8, 2012

ARP Axxe "The most creative part of an ARP..." ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

ARP Axxe "The most creative part of an ARP..." full page black and white advertisement from the inside back cover of the September 1977 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

First - Happy Thanksgiving to all us Canadians! Nom nom nom...

Okay, on to the ad....

Seeing an ARP Axxe solo advertisement is about as rare as seeing me at a bar on country music appreciation night. Most of the time, the Axxe is walking in the shadow of it's big brother, the always more awesome and more popular ARP Odyssey.

And in my mind at least, this was always the poor Axxe's fate in life.

This Omni solo advertisement only seems to have appeared in the September and October 1977 issues of CK. And off the top of my head, I can only remember the ARP Axxe appearing on its own once before, in the October 1976 issue of CK (see right). And even it that ad, it's like it wasn't good enough to be on its own, and the Axxe's parents had to pay the kid next door to come over and play. Only in this case, the kid is a free anvil road case.

To nail the point home, I'd like to point out that this wasn't the only ARP ad in the September 1977 issue of CK. There was also this "Proportional Pitch Control" two-pager that featured - you guessed it, the Axxe AND Odyssey.

It also had to share real estate with other ARP instruments in the earlier "Gold Records" family portrait and "A few facts" attack ad from 1976. 

So as I often like to say to others when I've had the shit kicked out of me one way or another:

It's hard to be an ARP Axxe sometimes. It really is. 

Compare that with the Moog Minimoog's siblings - Rogue, Prodigy, etc. In my mind I consider them all different instruments with their own individual personalities. They were all different enough to keep separated in my head.

But I just don't see the Axxe that way. And part of the answer may lie in that "Few Facts" ARP ad I mentioned above. Specifically in the ad-copy of the  "Fact 2" box:
"Fact 2: Learn to play one ARP and you can play them all. If you learn to play ARP's funky Axxe, you're halfway to learning the big 2600. We wrote the book about each. ARP didn't become the world's leading synthesizer manufacturer by accident. No way. We got to the top by carefully designing a family of synthesizers that let a musician transfer techniques from one ARP to another. If you learn to play an ARP Axxe, you can play an Odyssey or ARP 2600 with ease. The terminology is the same. The controls and front panel are the same. Only the features and sound possibilities are expanded."
This deliberate attempt by ARP to make all their synthesizers so similar definitely has its positive points. But one negative is that it gets harder to psychologically separate them in your customer's brain.

I might go as far as to say that this would affect my buying behaviour. If I already had a Minimoog and wanted to expand my sound capabilities, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Moog - say a Rogue or Prodigy, because in my mind they are different enough. But if I have an Odyssey, I probably wouldn't purchase an Axxe because in my mind ARP has built them up to look and sound too similarly. ARP probably would have lost my repeat business.

Anyways, all that aside, this is a pretty nice lookin' ad. All pre-Photoshop too.

ARP obviously thought the imagery was nice too. Nice enough that this ad's existence only seems to be for one purpose - to sell $2 posters of the exact same image. Like, instead of using the space to sell $1000+ synths.

Yeah yeah, I know, posters in the 70s are kinda like those "KEEP CALM..." viral images. They are seen by plenty once you put them up in your home, studio or music store.

Like this one   :D

Or this one  :)

But still, its hard to believe that ARP spent the cash for an inside-back cover ad all for the purpose of selling posters.

Kinda makes me a little sad.  But just a little, because when I look at this ad and I want a chuckle, I just look at the mailing address and who to send my money too:



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