Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yamaha Portasound Retailers "Here's your chance..." ad, Keyboard 1982

Yamaha Portasound Retailers "Here's your chance..." full page colour advertisement from page 41 in the February 1982 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Yamaha were always a little unusual in those early days. Almost as unusual as the Keyboard Magazine that this advertisement first appeared in.  I've blogged about it before, but will always take the opportunity to point it out again whenever I get the chance.

The February 1982 issue of Keyboard was incorrectly dated February 1981 on the cover. It's a rare thing when a magazine makes this mistake, and I think it makes this issue of Keyboard just that much more interesting and rare.

Where was I ... oh yeah - Yamaha. Unusual.

Like when the company suddenly cut into their famous DX-line of advertising with this warning for DX-7 and DX-9 purchasers on the dangers of buying grey-market synths from Japan rather than from authorized US retailers.

And here we have Yamaha doing it just a little bit differently again.

Back in the 70s and 80s, it wasn't unusual for smaller companies to use their generally small advertising space to also try and scope out new distributors. Smaller companies generally didn't already have distribution networks already in place.

And so when Yamaha spends some good full-page colour advertising dollars to find Portasound retailers, I tend to get curious. This wasn't just a one-time shot like that grey-market advertisement - this ad appeared in the February, March, April, July and October issues of Keyboard in 1982.

The advertisement actually contains some good historical information on the company. The ad-copy clearly states that Yamaha had created a new "Specialty Products Division"  for their new Protasound line of keyboards. At the time, this included the PS-1, PS-2 and PS-3 - all visible in the ad. It's a good historical marker that I'll file way for later.

Like... for right now.

I blogged a little about Yamaha's confusing early 80s organizational structure a short while ago and the possible effects it had on the consumer. Or, I should say I pointed out what Dominic Milano had already said back in his March 1983 Keyboard Report on three Yamaha offerings - the PC-100, MP-1 and the lovely CS01.
"Companies, as they get larger, tend to split themselves up into smaller divisions internally, for administrative reasons. This may make perfect sense for their own purposes, but it can be confusing for anybody from the outside who deals with them. Case in point: Yamaha International (which is itself a division of Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd.) has no less than three separate divisions selling keyboard instruments. Depending on what instrument you want to talk about, your phone call may be routed to either the Keyboard Division (pianos and organs), the Combo Division (rock and jazz keyboards), or the Special Products Division (portable battery-operated keyboards)."
 This rather new division - the Specialty Products Division-  included portable battery-operated keyboards. Except the CS-01 battery-operated keyboard. That belonged to the Combo Division. Confusing? Yerp!

It was quite normal for a company division to include a little tag line in an advertisement - a bit of an ego boost I suppose - but to actually have a particular division of a company calling themselves out publicly within the ad-copy itself is unusual indeed. And double-indeed that it can be unnecessary and confusing for the consumer. Especially in a consumer magazine such as Keyboard.

The advertisement is also an interesting read because it's doing the hard sell to retailers. Like, really hard.
  • "Pinch yourself and read those words again"
  • "Better act now"
  • "Three little keyboards that are going to add up to big sales"
  • "Put a lot of money in your pocket"
  • "Don't miss this opportunity"
And my favourite in the mail-in cut-out section:
  • "Yes! I'd like to get in on the ground floor..."
It's almost like I'm talking to my buddies who tried to get me in on pyramid schemes back in university. 

And if it wasn't for that lovely photo in the ad showing the current line of Portasound keyboards surrounded by styrofoam packing peanuts, you might be inclined to think it was a scheme to sell products that don't actually exist. But the Portasound line obviously did exist AND like the ad states, there were "many more new products to come".

And, I can tell you from a personal point of view - very FUN products. :)

And that statement is backed up by the cover of the PS 1, 2 and 3 Playing Guide (Yamaha has a PDF on their Web site).

Both the girl and guy on the cover are obviously really stoked, not only about their high-waisted pants, but also about their Portasound keyboards.

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