Thursday, August 2, 2012

Akai S-612 "Sample a Sampler" ad, Keyboard 1986

Akai S-612 "Sample a Sampler" one page colour advertisement from page 61 in the July 1986 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

It's hard to believe I can ever forget how thick that July 1986 issue of Keyboard is. That is until the next time I have a good reason to pull it off the shelf again. We are talking over 170 pages of juicy Keyboard goodness  - this time with a big cover photo of Lyle Mays sitting in front of a big-ass Oberheim 8-Voice.

And whenever I do pull it off the shelf, I immediately forget that I have a blog post to write and end up sitting at the end of the bed flipping through the mag. Although I've probably gone through this issue of Keyboard cover-to-cover more than a dozen times, my eyes always find something new.

This time, I notice this one small little descriptive sentence used with the Keyboard News section in the table of contents:
"Synthesizer sales hit new high"
I immediately flip to the news page to find the info. According to the small article, imports of synthesizers, mini-keyboards and organs had increased over 890% over the last five years - from $21 million in 1980 to $280 million in 1985. With over 98% of these instruments coming from Japan.

My immediate thought was - man, the US must be pissed that Japan is importing all this synth-love. But then the article notes that the US industry was keeping up, with exports of American synthesizers and electric pianos rising 19% in number of units and 17% in value when compared to the previous year, "with increased shipments especially to Switzerland and Japan".

The same news page also had another little blurb on Roland gray marketers - something that Yamaha addressed in a full page "Special Announcement to Purchaser" advertisement back in the February 1984 issue:
"The war against gray marketers - unauthorized importers of electronic equipment - stepped up on March 28, when Roland filed suit against ABC International Traders. The suit alleges that ABC infringed the manufacturer's trademark and rights under the custom laws by selling equipment intended for sale in countries other than the U.S..."
Interesting stuff.

But enough about the magazine - how about this ad, eh? 

Finally! Akai's S-612 sampler getting some full-page solo loving. To date it had been relegated to a 1/2 page format - first in 85's black and white "Would you like a sampler...?" ad, and then in the first half of 1986 in the "Finally Sampling Made Simple" colour advertisement. To be fair, it also got to share the stage with it's synth brother the AX60, but this is the first time Akai had decided to give the S-612 its own full page space.

And for good reason to - the price. Sure, its the same $995 as in previous ads. But now the "optional" MD-280 disk drive is not-so-optional and is included WITH the sampler. According to the November 1985 Keyboard Report on the S-612, Akai was selling the MD-280 on its own for $299.00. (And, BTW, you could also get a set of 10 pre-recorded disks for $79.95 and a box of ten blank disks for $49.95.)

But now, that $995 gets you both the sampler and the disk drive. Not too shabby.

The ad itself isn't too shabby neither. We got a really nice to-the-point ad-title. A nice big photo of both the sampler and the disk drive - actually the best photo yet, showing off that legible front panel and all that is simple and great about the S612.

Again, Akai has chosen to (TM) the heck out of the term Sampler. In the ad-title. In the ad-copy. Everywhere. It actually gets a little tedious. But I guess when you are trying to protect a trademark, you can never go to far.

It brings back to mind (but in no way related except that lawyers were probably involved) the recent Jack Daniel's friendly cease and desist letter. If you happen to be friends with any PR people, no doubt they sent you an email with a link to this news item in another tedious attempt to show you how much of a PR expert they are. Oh wait, I sent that email around too. Ooops.   :)

But, as a collector, what I like most about this advertisement is the collateral material available - not just a demo-sampler cassette, but also a T-Shirt! When I see that, I start to drool on my keyboard, and while the keyboard is drying off, I have to add those items onto my list of collectable items.

To me, vintage synth t-shirts are right up there with belt buckets.


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