This advertising slogan is part of New Jersey folklore
A good tagline or tagline will have legs and be remembered long after the product has changed or dropped the tagline. Most of those 60s and 70s phrases and slogans like “Put a tiger in your tank” for Exxon, “Do it your way” at Burger King, “Do it” for Nike and many others stay with you forever. . As I write this, I can think of dozens more who have had an impact on advertising and, more importantly, product awareness.
A powerful slogan was “rich Corinthian leather”. This phrase that captivated the consumer is not just the car associated with the phrase, but other products that have “borrowed” the phrase to sell their wares.
It was the mid-70s, specifically 1975, when Chrysler reintroduced the Cordoba, a car that was priced below a Cadillac and a Lincoln, but still had some nice appointments, including the “rich Corinthian leather”. The Cordoba was a model manufactured from 1975 to 1983.
The Chrysler Cordoba had a famous spokesperson, actor Ricardo Montalban, who had a very popular role on ABC’s Fantasy Island. In each advertisement, Ricardo described the rich Corinthian leather very elegantly. The interior was luxurious, my friend had one and I remember rubbing my hands over the beautiful tufted leather and hearing Ricardo Montalban in my ear describing the beauty.
This “rich Corinthian leather” was supplied to Chrysler from a factory just outside of Newark, New Jersey. That’s right, Corinthian leather, the beautiful, rich, supple leather made right here in New Jersey.
The term Corinthian leather was coined as part of an advertising campaign by advertising agency Bozell & Jacobs and was first introduced in 1974 when Chrysler launched the first Cordoba. Ricardo Montalban, in an interview with David Lettermen, was asked what Corinthian leather was, Ricardo replied that it meant nothing. It was made up. There was a song called Fine Corinthian Leather, a Charlie Hunter jazz number that was produced in 2008.
If you look at Corinthian leather today, you will see lounge chairs, sofas and chairs all upholstered in “rich Corinthian leather”, a name and brand that was totally invented. The name may have been invented, but the rich Corinthian leather is still part of the Jersey fabrication.
The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. All opinions expressed are those of Big Joe.
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