This advertising slogan is part of New Jersey folklore
A good catchphrase or slogan will have legs and be remembered long after the product changes or drops the slogan. Most of those phrases and slogans in the ’60s and ’70s like “put a tiger in your tank” for Exxon, “have it your way” at Burger King, “just do it” by Nike and so many more stick with you forever. As I’m writing this I can think of dozens more that had an impact on advertising and more importantly product awareness.
One powerful catchphrase was “rich Corinthian leather”, This phrase that captured the consumer, is not only the car associated with the phrase but other products that “borrowed” the phrase to sell their wares.
It was in the mid-’70s, specifically 1975, when Chrysler reintroduced the Cordoba, a car that was priced under a Cadillac and Lincoln but yet had some fine appointments including “rich Corinthian leather”. The Cordoba was a model that was made from 1975 to 1983.
The Chrysler Cordoba had a celebrity spokesperson actor Ricardo Montalban who had a very popular role on ABC’s Fantasy Island. In every commercial Ricardo very elegantly described the rich Corinthian leather. 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.
That “rich Corinthian leather” was supplied to Chrysler from a plant right outside of Newark, New Jersey. That’s right, Corinthian leather, the rich beautiful supple leather made right here in New Jersey.
The term Corinthian leather was made up as part of an ad campaign by ad agency Bozell & Jacobs and was first introduced in 1974 when Chrysler rolled out the first Cordoba. Ricardo Montalban in an interview with David Lettermen was asked what Corinthian Leather was, Ricardo, answered it means nothing. It was made up. There was a song called Fine Corinthian Leather a jazz number by Charlie Hunter that was produced in 2008.
If you look up Corinthian leather today you’ll see loungers, sofas, and chairs all covered in “rich Corinthian leather” a name and branding that was totally made up. The name may have been made up but the rich Corinthian leather is still a part of Jersey manufacturing.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.