Monday, October 22, 2012

ARP Omni-2 "...into a rock and roll orchestra" introductory ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1978

ARP Omni-2 "...into a rock and roll orchestra" full page colour introductory advertisement from page 50 in the March 1978 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

My mom always said that if I had nothing good to say, don't say anything at all.  Well, I'll keep this post short then.

ARP has a history of wordy advertisements. Four or more paragraphs is not uncommon, such as in the ads below.  

But usually the words in those ads are at least readible. Dark text on a light background. Or the other way around.

But when I look at this Omni-2 ad, my eyes just don't know where to start. The title is large, but the main image is too close underneath it. Copy is running over the images. And the image of the Omni-2 is bumped up against the ad-copy as well. This is a good example of what happens when there isn't enough "white space" in an ad.

In fact, this ad reminds me of what I get back from a passive aggressive designer after I've given them too much text and too many images to use in an ad.  Rather than just trying to explain there is just too much crap to include, they make the point by providing a first draft with all that text and images intentionally running all over each other. 

I can understand ARP's need to make sure this Omni-2 introductory ad provides as much information as possible to the readers of CK, but I'm pretty sure that even I could cut that ad-copy in half and still get all those messages across.

The first message in this ad is the one I'm most curious about. It references the ARP String Ensemble as it's direct evolutionary predecessor, although I'd have thought that position would have gone to the original Omni (Omni-1...?).

In fact, the original Omni had it's last ad in CK running almost right up to the launch of this Omni-2 ad. And it was promoting it as the "best selling synthesizer in music". So, why wouldn't ARP leverage the original Omni's clout in this respect?

I think Vintage Synth Explorer's ARP Omni page provides the answer:
"ARP later released the Omni Mk 2 (pictured above). It was basically the same machine as its predecessor, except for a few minor enhancements and a cosmetic Orange & Black color-scheme upgrade."
The Omni Wikipedia page provides a bit more detail on these changes, but basically it was the same machine except with the new "Halloween" colour scheme. So, comparing it back to the String Ensemble with its lovely string sounds probably makes sense.

Interestingly, this wasn't the only new ARP ad to appear in CK this month. There was also the ARP Odyssey and Axxe " the most playable" two page ad that began running - introducing the new colour scheme with those two synths.

Aaaaah - so really, all three machines were being re-introduced with the new colour scheme in the same month, but the Omni also had a few tweaks to it, so made sense to create its own ad rather than group it in with the other two.

I'll buy that.

The other half of the ad-copy can be split up into two basic themes. Technical - polyphonic, connectors, etc; and ARP's favorite topic - Human Engineering.

On the technical front, the Wikipedia page mentions that the bass section of the Omni-2 had its own audio output, giving the keyboard three audio outputs that ARP would refer to "Tri-phonic" in literature. But this early ad didn't include that little marketing gem, suggesting that this term came later in the Omni-2's life time.

And those ARP writers transition from technical to Human Engineering nicely by mentioning that Omni-2's variable control panel has the new graphic colours and thus "like other Arps... are faster to read and understand for better live performance".

Okay, so, this ad isn't all bad. But unlike books, I do judge ads by their covers. And, I probably should have done what my mom said and kept my mouth shut. 

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