Monday, June 27, 2011

Sequential Circuits Inc. pre-launch countdown ads, January 1981

Sequential Circuits Inc. pre-launch countdown ads from pages 30, 32, and 34 in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine January 1981.

Update: Added to Sequential Circuits interactive advertising timeline.

What a great set of ads! I'm a big fan of teaser ads when they are done right. So when such a beautiful, simple, small, under-the-radar set of teaser ads comes out by SCI, I'm gonna jump on 'em - even when there isn't much to see. I almost felt silly scanning them, so to help with the visual, I've included small thumbnails of the pages that these ads were found on so positioning can be seen.

I assume that most readers coming across these ads behaved similarly to me.

I came across the first ad almost subconsciously the first time I breezed through the January 1981 issue of CK. But when I flipped to the next page and saw a similar ad in the exact same space (top left corner of the page), the similarity with the first ad immediately registered in my frontal lobe, and I automatically flipped back to assimilate that first ad as well. Then, my brain's logic circuits immediately hit over-drive, and I instinctively flipped two pages ahead to the same spot to see if there was a third ad. And sure enough!

Good times.... good times...

Unlike readers in 1981 who then had to wait a month for the actual announcement (suckas!), I ran through the living room to grab the February 1981 issue of CK off the shelf. I had a good idea since I had already blogged the ad last summer, but in case you missed it:

Yerp. The lovely Pro-One.

And, after that introductory Pro-One ad ran a couple of times, a more familiar, and soon to be part of a legendary series, Pro-1 ad come out. A series of ads that was so well-received that they were turned into a set of posters.


The introduction of the Pro-One wasn't the only SCI announcement to be found in the February 1981 issue of CK. Readers who had managed to read all the way through to page 79 in the magazine without skipping most of the pages to get to the Spec Sheet info (which, I'll admit, is what I used to do), would have come across the Keyboard News section with some great historical reference info. It included a short note about Sequential Circuits' new service centres.
"California-based Sequential Circuits Inc., manufacturer of the Prophet synthesizer, has set up eight new service centers in the U.S. and Canada where owners of SCI products may go to correct instrument problems they encounter on the road. Technicians at the service centers have been personally trained by Dan Ramsauer, the firm's service manager, and are presently located in New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. Further information about the service centers may be obtained by telephoning Ramsauer or Bob Styles at the company's headquarters, 408-946-5240..."
Great info and probably a good strategy by SCI considering some of the issues with early Prophets.

But back to teaser ads for a sec.

I've questioned the value of magazine teaser ads in the past. With TV or radio, a teaser ad can be run multiple times within a week, a day, or even within the same program. Not so with a magazine. Readers will really only get one or two chances to see the ad in a single issue, so odds are quite high that many will miss it.

For example, Korg ran a teaser ad for the Sigma keyboard in just one issue of CK in 1979. Visually it is a great ad, and considerable resources obviously went into producing it. But was it worth all the time and effort in creating it? Or would an extra month of the actual Sigma ad done more for the marketing of the keyboard?

In the case of these SCI pre-launch teasers, the cost of design and placement of these simple ads probably wasn't even close to the cost of the Korg ad. I guess I just wish it could have lasted more than one issue.

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