Yamaha’s Red Envelope

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What is in the red envelope? It’s a key. Could it be the key to something very special…?

Yamaha have produced a US TV commercial for their pianos. Surprisingly this is the very first time they have ever done so. The advert forms part of a larger campaign highlighting Yamaha’s 0% finance offer on most new instruments.  It will run nationwide in the US throughout November and December.

The advert, as you can see, shows a young girl waking to find a red envelope next to her bed. On opening it, she finds a key, and this opens a special gift which turns out (obviously) to be a Yamaha piano.


Red Letters and Red Envelopes

We’ve all heard the expression “Red Letter Day”. This is a day of special importance. It originates in Roman times when significant days of the year were highlighted on a calendar in red ink.

Interestingly the “red envelope” depicted in the ad, has nothing to do with the aforementioned red letter.  In many cultures (mostly Asian) red envelopes are given at special occasions, and the gift is generally a major one, and usually money. The colour red symbolises good luck, and is considered to ward off evil spirits.

With the advent of mobile payments, virtual red envelopes are now very popular. In 2016 over 32 billion (yes billion) digital red envelopes were sent over the Chinese New Year holiday.

In Yamaha’s advert the red envelope doesn’t contain money, but a key—a key to the sparkling new Yamaha upright in the room next door.

Although this is their first TV ad in the US, Yamaha do produce TV ads in other territories. For example this is a commercial from 2008 that ran on Indonesian TV. There is quite a difference in style.

Steinway have also run TV ads in the past, albeit sparingly. This is one from 2008.

Why so few piano commercials?

A piano is both visually impressive and has a beautiful timbral quality. Surely the perfect product to advertise on a medium such as TV. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Pianos do appear in commercials, but usually only to enhance other merchandise. Advertisers will use a top of the range instrument to reflect, by association, quality and desirability upon the product they are selling. It is strange, therefore, that the major manufacturers have made so few piano ads over the years.

Maybe we are all just waiting for a Red Letter Day.

Details of the Yamaha campaign (US) can be found here.


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