Monday, October 29, 2012

ARP Omni-2 "Big polyphonic synthesizer sounds.../Allan Zavod" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1978



ARP Omni-2 "Big polyphonic synthesizer sounds.../Allan Zavod" black and white and orange full page advertisement from page 41 in the September 1978 issue of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine.

Halloween is getting closer and closer, and I think I'm finally getting into the spirit. Pumpkin is ready to be carved and boxes of candy have been bought. Even more surprisingly, I still haven't opened any of that candy stash. Usually I'd be on box #2 by now.

That *is* a first. But there is still three nights to go. Let's not get too optimistic. My insulin levels are already rising in anticipation of a will-power breakdown.

Anyways, Just like I'm prep'd for Halloween, ARP was locked and loaded with the new look of their synth front panels - what I have been referring to as their Halloween colours or theme. Usually this term has been used when referring to one of the three colour palettes of the Rhodes Chroma's panel that used orange, red and yellow colouring. But, since it was Philip Dodds, VP of Engineering at ARP and product manager for the Chroma at CBS/Fender, that came up with the term, I'm going to say its okay to use with other ARPs as well.    :D

The first ARP ad that used the new colours was an Odyssey advertisement that featured Tom Coster of Santana fame.


The following month, ARP decided to give the same kind of make-over to their Omni-2 ads. And readers of Keyboard would have had the opportunity to come across both of these ads in the September and October 1978 issues of Keyboard. Nice. The more I look at these ads, the more I like 'em (could be all the talk of sugar too).

Now, if like me you found Coster had a spooky jack-o-lantern kinda look to him in that Odyssey ad, you may also have found that Allan Zavod superficially resembled a very happy Frankenstein in this Omni-2 ad.

I'd be a very happy looking person too if I was surrounded not just by Omnis, but those other ARP synths as well. Look to be 2600s to me.

I don't have 2600s surrounding me at the moment (I haven't checked my lotto ticket yet), but thanks to Allan Zavod and this ad, I am still quite happy because of all this ad-copy. Well, actually, just that last paragraph.
"Thanks to Allan Zavod, and more than five thousand other great musicians around the world, the ARP Omni has become the most popular synthesizer in music history..."
 Unless you are Apple Computers or Nintendo and your quarterly earnings are through the roof, its often quite hard to get a company to cough up real production numbers. Usually companies will try and keep those numbers confidential for as long as possible.

So, after almost a year of ARP bragging that more Omni's have been sold than any other synthesizer, we finally have a number from ARP (over 5000) to back up that claim. 5000 doesn't seem like a lot now, but back in 1978 synths were still falling slowly towards affordability. But it wouldn't be long after that new technologies would make both the power of synths skyrocket while bringing prices to the lowest they have ever been.

The result? Well, after the DX7 was released approximately four years after this ad appeared in CK, it apparently sold over 160,000 units according to Wikipedia. The M1 came out in 1988 and sold 250,000 units. Interestingly, each of these machines sold for $2,000 - more or less.

Of course, you have to take into account inflation. One online inflation calculator tells me that $2000 in 1978 had the same buying power as $3,143.32 in 1983 and $3,717 in 1988. So, costs down, but technology in those machines definitely skyrocketing.

If only I could same for the Halloween mini Mars and Snickers bars where although prices for a box of 90 seem to go down every year, so is the size of the little bars in each little package. I have to eat something like ten now just to get a full chocolate bar fix.

Or at least it seems like it.

3 comments:

Micke said...

Hi Retro,

I find it quite amusing that this ARP ad states that over 5000 Omni's were sold, especially after just having read in Mark Vail's "Vintage synthesizers" that about 4000 Omni's were sold.
On the other hand, that book contains quite a few errors so....

RetroSynthAds said...

Micke! Didn't even think to check the VS book. Gah! What's an extra 1000 synths among ARP accountants?!?! :D

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