Monday, March 25, 2013

Roland Jupiter-4 "Never has the universe been so near" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Jupiter-4 synthesizer "Never has the universe been so near" full page colour advertisement from page 23 in the October 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

So it seems that after the blog's latest run of Roland SH-101 ads, I'm still on a bit of a Roland kick. Not even a dude in tight blue spandex traveling at high speeds down a hill playing a keytar using ski gloves could stop me.

Initially this Jupiter-4 advertisement ran inside the October and November 1979 issues of CK, but then Roland seemed to have decided to give the synth a bit of a boost the following spring by making it the first Roland advertisement to be placed in the coveted front inside cover of the magazine. It ran in that spot through March, May and June 1980, and then, to put icing on the cake, Roland decided to run it again in the January 1981 issue.

An okay run by most standards.

It might not be the most creative advertisement with a basic title/photo/3-column layout on a black background, but at least its in colour. Unlike the Jupiter-4's first ad that appeared almost a year earlier. To me, Roland's Jupiter series is all about the colour pallet. Even the small amounts of colour on those buttons "pop", and you need to see a photo of the Roland Jupiter-4 in a colour advertisement to really appreciate it's beauty. 

Another thing about layouts in general that I always notice is when an ad doesn't use all of its space. I've tried to scan this ad with as much of the outside edge of the ad as possible so you can get an idea of just how much space was left on all sides. It's almost too much. Almost.

The theme of this advertisement is about as creative as the design - price/performance/function. You may be inspired to yawn at this point, but as my friend Dave would always do to me, if you don't cover your mouth while you are yawning, I'm going to stick my finger in it. And then slap you across the face.I started covering my mouth pretty quickly.

My point is, it may be an old message previously used with ads for monophonics developed and their prices began to fall, but its also an effective message to be used on polyphonics that are now starting to follow similar price drops.

If there is one thing that bugs me about this ad, it's that tag line "Never Has the Universe Been so Near". First, because they've decided to only capitalize some of the words. Sure, some style guides will tell you to do this - but I'd be more inclined to keep everything in small letters after he first word.

Never has the universe been so near.

Or, break the rule book altogether capitalize everything.

Never Has The Universe Been So Near.

But its not just the capitalization. It's that the tag line doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of the ad-copy. The "universe" is never referenced again.

Yes, I get it. Roland is telling me I can have it all with the Jupiter-4. It costs half as much as a similar synth from another company, and yet includes features not found in the competition. But just pull the "universe" into that first paragraph somehow. You've got the room.

In the big picture though, capitalization and on-going references to the universe are small potatoes.  The ad-copy in this ad is all grown up. First and foremost, another Roland product, the Compu-Rhythm makes a great cameo appearance. And its not just thrown in there in some half-assed way, its used as a tool to keep the main focus on the Jupiter-4, and one of its most awesome features - the arpeggiator!

Also, many foreign companies got razed a little for their disjointed ad-speak back in the 70s, but this one from Roland definitely isn't one of them. Not only does it speak well to a North American audience with lines like "rolling in money", Roland also seems to be getting a little scrappy, willing to poke the eyes of the other big synth companies by throwing in cheeky comments like "features our competition somehow forgot". And that final paragraph delivers the final blow:
"But if all of this still isn't enough to make you try out a Jupiter-4, this one fact will be: It costs $2895.00. Why do the others cost so much more? You'd better ask them that question."
Bam! Yo mamma!

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