Monday, October 15, 2012

ARP Odyssey/Axxe " the most playable" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1978

ARP Odyssey and Axxe " the most playable" two-page colour advertisement from page 34 and 35 in the March 1978 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Halloween is getting close. It's usually around mid-October that I realize just how much I'm falling behind of all the different things I wanted to get done before the end of the year. Music. Work. Catch up with friends. The works.

And Halloween was the only theme I could think of when I took a look at those dismembered hands floating over the Odyssey and Axxe on the right half of this two-pager.  Hovering hands are one thing, but what really confuses me is the clothing choice. Those white frilly frocks chosen to accentuate the hands in the photo are a little outside their time period. Or was there a Shakespearian resurgence in the late 70s that I'm not aware of?

This ad is actually quite significant in the history of ARP. It marked the company's announcement to the world of their new black and orange colour choice for their synthesizers. Vintage Synth Explorer's ARP Odyssey and ARP Axxe pages include some great images of the different colour schemes used for both synths. A good read.

The new colour scheme promo wasn't just limited to CK either. Although that magazine seemed to have received the most advertising dollars to get this two-pager into the March, April and May 1978 issues. Plus also appeared in the June issue of CK as a full-colour 1-pager - running just the right-half of the ad.

Having that large photo take up the full left-half of the page really does help re-purpose the ad easily as a one-pager. And they did just that when ARP ran the 1-page version on the back outside cover of the May/June 1978 issue of Synapse magazine.

The 1-page version also ran as a black and white ad in the March (UK)/April (International) issue of International Musician and Recording World as part of a Chase Musicians' multi-page promo that included a big push for the ARP Avatar. Unfortunately, as is often the case when converting a colour ad to black and white, the small photos really suffered and are barely recognizable.  Boo.

The final 2-page spread of that Chase multipage promo is a one-night-only event to promote the updated synthesizers at one of Chase's stores, including an incredible 20% discount on all orders taken that night. As well as free drinks - in brackets: non-alcoholic only. LOL! May have to scan that one at a later date. It's quite spectacular.

Now, I just can't go any further without commenting on the ad's contents. Sure, its nicely designed with balance, good use of white space, yadda yadda yadda... but its the ad-copy itself that I find really really interesting.

ARP's big thing has always been "Human Engineering". A quick Google search of Retro Synth Ads for the term Human Engineering will give you a good idea just how much ARP pushed this aspect of their synths, and just how much I pointed it out. :)

And I have to say that this time ARP definitely made their synths "easier and more expressive to play" with the new black and orange "Halloween" colour scheme. Although not everyone liked the new colours, it was definitely a lot easier to locate and comprehend controls for "quick, clear readings".

There are a few other nice details in the ad-copy too. For example, ARP points out the synths' "extended keyboards" that "make them easier to play even when stacked with other keyboards". And, to subconsciously hit that point home, the centre photo of the Odyssey is lighted from above in such a way as to highlight the long keys of the keyboard. Brilliant.

And finally, the last point in the ad makes me chuckle. ARP has "redesigned" the prices for the Odyssey and Axxe. I love little bits of historical reference material like price drops.

And now I have to go find out just how much of a drop! And then, after that, get my synth advertising timeline tool updated.

I'm falling behind on that too. Gah.

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