Monday, July 2, 2012

Yamaha "But it's just the beginning" DX7 and KX5 ad, Keyboard 1985

Yamaha "...but it's just the beginning" DX7 synthesizer and KX5 MIDI controller full page colour advertisement from the back cover of the January 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Summer time! And I'm spending the majority of it outside in the extremely nice weather we are experiencing in my part of the world during this fine Canada Day long weekend. It's Sunday morning and the thermometer is already creeping into the mid-20s Celcius, the 70s for you Farenheit folks.

But before I start Celebrating Canada Day by sliding in to my thong speedo (not), slathering coconut oil all over this delicious body (not), and start drinking sugar-free mohito mix and rum (okay, that's a possibility), I thought I better get this rather interesting Yamaha DX7 and KX5 blog post ready to rock.

"Interesting", you ask? Sure, it's got a nice large photo of the two star performers taking up a good two-thirds of the page and an ad-title taking up another third, but that hardly counts as "interesting".

But, its actually the timing of this ad that's interesting. The more I researched into this advertisement, the more I started thinking it wasn't just an ad to promote Yamaha's new keytar, but really also a bit of a delay tactic.

Hear me out.

The first Yamaha FM ad (DX9 and DX7) started running in July 1983, only lasting two months. And it included that wonderful tagline:  "The performance is about to begin". Then, Yamaha pushed out their flagship, feature-rich, name-dropping madness of a 2-pager that kept that tagline going. That ad also lasted only two months appearing in the September and October 1983 issues.

Then, everything goes quiet for three months on the DX front until suddenly, out of the blue, that  awkward "Special Announcement" advertisement from Yamaha pops up in February 1984. Awkward, with a splash of pouting.

And after that one-off...DX DEAD SILENCE. For like, almost a year.

No kidding. 11 months of silence. And then finally this DX7/KX5 advertisement popped up in January 1985.

Looking back in my mind, I could have sworn that Keyboard Magazine as well as everyone else and their mothers were going bat-shit crazy for the DX7. I thought I recalled being flooded with advertisements and promotions and cheerleaders all bombarding me DX propaganda.

Researching it now though, I realize that there was almost a whole year in Keyboard Magazine WITHOUT a Yamaha DX advertisement. I'm shaking my head in disbelief. Was all that hype really just mid-80s viral marketing and buzz at its finest? Yamaha letting everyone else build up the DX line for them? I seem to recall my local synth store was talking the 7 and 9 up like a storm. But, apparently my recollection isn't cracked up to what I thought is was. :P

If that was the case - good work, Yamaha! Nothing like earned media and some great buzz.

Although I love keytars, I'm going to ignore that part of this ad's message and comment on the other, less noticeable (and maybe just in my mind) purpose of this advertisement. Delay, delay, delay.

Just read through the ad-title and ad-copy again and you will notice that only a 1/4 of this advertisement is actually about the new KX5. The rest is all about what's still to come:
"But it's just the beginning"

"But wait folks, this is just the first act. There's more coming for the DX7. A whole series of products that will make the most amazing synthesizer ever heard into the most amazing music system ever heard."

"In the meantime, why not visit your Yamaha dealer and check out the instrument that started it all - the DX7."
For me, as a reader of Keyboard, after such a long silence this January 1985 advertisement would start generating a whole new level of buzz - dangling the KX5 as an example of everything great that is still to come. I was probably walking into my Yamaha dealer on a weekly basis to be the first to look at the new gear.

But it wouldn't be there yet.

And then I probably saw this ad again in February and again ran down to my local store.


And then March...

And then May....

And then... September? WTF?

It's September and Yamaha is still telling me to hold onto my hat and wait for this next generation of Yamaha products.

Just to be clear let me repeat the timeline -  Yamaha introduces the DX7 in July 1983 and advertises it for four months until October 1983. Then, there isn't a DX ad (except that Special Announcement) until January 1985 that runs for TEN MONTHS telling me to wait a bit longer. That's October 1983 to October 1985.

Okay, I do realize I'm being a bit of a douche-bag to make my point. I'm betting that the first of those new products (spoiler alert - TX7 and QX7) were probably already in stores.

But if the TX and QX were already in stores, then replace this ten-month-old ad with *THAT* advertisement already.

And, don't forget that Yamaha had a lot of other products that also needed to get their advertising time in magazines such as Keyboard, so that could delay any new ads as well.

But, again, if that was the case, then why keep running this ad at all? 

I can't help that the conspiracist  in me wants to think that something was up and those two products (and others) were delayed a bit longer than expected.

I got no data to back that up.

Yet. :D

Well, the thermometer just hit 30 Celcuis in the sun - and it's only 11:15 am. Whoo whoo!

Time to slip on the thong speedo and start enjoying the day.

Hope you all had a happy Canada Day!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It's interesting that the notice to purchasers mentions the voltage as the identifier. I have a Roland Juno 106 with a plate next to the AC jack that reads 117V. I always thought that was an odd number. It came from a music store in San Antonio, TX. in 1984. Funny to imagine them unloading gray market synths meant for distribution wherever 117V is the standard.

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