Monday, November 19, 2012

Casio CZ-5000 "If you've got your eyes on the charts..." ad, Keyboard 1985

Casio CZ-5000 synthesizer "If you've got your eyes on the charts..." full page colour advertisement from page 132 in the October 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

It's Sunday night now, and usually I've wrapped up my blogging by noon - or at least have Monday's post in the bin, and Thursday's on deck. But today was different. I woke up in one big procrastination mood.

The first thing I did, as I usually do when I wake up, was immediately reach for my tablet and check my email. I was quickly reminded by FutureShop that the WiiU went on sale this morning.  Well, I'll be darned. So much for blogging.

Historically, I'm not known for falling into the marketing hype of new products. I usually wait a year and then buy used for a fraction of the price. Computers. Synths. Everything. But recently I've gained a bit more financial freedom to make spontaneous purchases. So, recently I have made a few purchases on opening day. The Google Nexus Tablet was one of those recent purchases. And now the WiiU.

It wasn't that I was overly excited to buy one and plug it in. Sure, in the deep crevasses of my belly I could feel the beginnings of that "ooh-I'm-about-to-buy-a-new-product-and-unbox-it" tingly feeling, but honestly I think I was actually just more curious as to what kind of line-up there might be at the store.

Would it be mayhem?

Two dudes dressed as Star Wars characters?

Wait... wrong line.

I got there about five minutes after the store opened, and there wasn't a line in sight outside, and I just waited in a small queue at the checkout where they were hoarding them. When it was my turn I just paid and left. I asked the guy if there had been a line, and he said a few people came an hour and half before the store opened. But it was quite tame.

So what was my point - oh yeah - procrastination. Expensive procrastinating. For a new product that normally I would never pay top dollar for.

Thinking back while waiting in line (and stressing a little bit about what I was going to blog about), I realized that this is my purchasing model for synthesizers as well.


Buy used.

Pay less.

But there were a few synthesizers that I have bought new. My CZ-5000 synthesizer was probably the first and holds a special place in my heart. I had heard good things about the CZ-series when they first came out - all of it through Keyboard Magazine. I saved up a long time (and probably so did my parents  :) for this baby.

Opening up the old issues of Keyboard now immediately brings me back to this purchasing decision and the logic I used on my parents to borrow some cash. In the September issue of Keyboard, a month before this ad began to sporadically appear, there is a killer page-long Keyboard Report on the CZ-5000 by Jim Aikin. And reading it today, I'm reminded about Casio's jump into the professional synth market.
"Long known as an industry leader in the field of fun keyboards that you buy in the department store, Casio is attempting with their new CZ series to move into the pro musician market. They've got the marketing clout, no doubt about it, and their synthesizers have a great sound, with distinctive digital waveforms and extensive envelope shaping. But their engineering staff still suffers now and again from odd lapses of judgement that reflect their greater familiarity with the home amusement area."
The diminutive CZ-101 and it's bigger brother, the CZ-1 were part of the initial marketing launch at the beginning of 1985, but it was the later marketing push of the CZ-5000 and it's multi-timbral sequencer that finally got me hooked. Especially that endless repeat function that allowed me to have a number of different sequences with different sounds looping continuously at the same time (sound familiar?  :)

But it wasn't just this article that convinced me to buy the synthesizer new. It was actually this ad. Or, I should say, it was Casio's marketing technique used in these ads.The easiest way to explain it is to compare it to other ads in the October 1985 issue.
  • On the inside front cover of the issue is a two-page ad for the Korg DW-6000 that features a giant photo of the DW-6000.
    On the back outside cover is an ad for the Yamaha DX-7 and KX-5 that features a giant photo of both of those instruments.
  • On the inside back cover is an ad for the Oberheim Matrix-12 that features a giant photo of the synth. 
  • Linn-9000 drum machine ad - big photo of a Linn. 
  • Akai AX80 synth ad - big photo of an AX-80.
  • Roland 2-page centerfold ad for all of their current products - giant photo of the instruments.
  • Ensoniq Mirage ad - giant photo of the Mirage. 
  • Sequential Circuits MAX synth ad - giant photo of the MAX.
This list goes on and on. But do you catch it? What makes the Casio ads different.


None. There is no visual connection between the technology and the musician.

Casio knows phase-distortion synthesis is new. And they also know it can be complicated. Their marketing team knew they had to make a visual connection to a musician to push these synths into a new product category dominated by Roland, Yamaha, Sequential Circuits and Korg. A connection between the technology and a working musician. In a studio. Making music. And it doesn't hurt that the musician looks like he is right out of Miami Vice (ahem - the 80s television version).

Casio would use this visual theme and the ad-copy cues that go with it with other CZ ads

And it worked. On me anyways.

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