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What Do Ricardo Montalbaln and the Chrysler Cordoba Have to do with Leasing?

For those of you Gen Y's and perhaps some Gen X'rs, you might not know who Ricardo Montalban is. He was one of the first really famous and very successful Latino actors who appeared in television (Fantasy Island anyone?) dozens of films (for you Trekkies out there, he was Kahn in both the Star Trek series and one movie), and he won both an Emmy award and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award. But many of us will always remember him as the velvety smooth spokesperson in the 1970's for the Chrysler Cordoba. He passed away yesterday at the age of 88.

What made his presentation for the Chrysler Cordoba so memorable? Well, his Spanish accent and his impeccable voice for one. But what everyone seemed to remember was his remark about the 'soft Corinthian leather' interior. The line became the punchline for jokes for years afterwards. Today, do a a Google search for "fine Corinthian leather" and guess what you get? Ricardo Montalbaln.

Now, "WHY?", you are asking, "Why is she doing all this talking about Ricardo Montalbaln and what does that have to do with apartment marketing?" I'm getting to that...

Montalbaln's charming delivery, coupled with the phrase 'soft Corinthian leather' took off for Chrysler. Everyone wanted 'soft Corinthian leather' but guess what? It didn't exist! Here's the Wikipedia explanation in case you don't believe me:

Corinthian leather was a phrase invented for marketing use to describe the leather used in certain Chrysler luxury cars in the 1970s. In this case, "Corinthian" does not actually indicate any relationship with Corinth, nor any specific type of leather and was added simply as a linguistic cachet.

The first use of this term was to describe the leather in the 1974 Chrysler Imperial, but the best known use of this term is from the advertising campaign for the 1976 Chrysler Cordoba, featuring celebrity spokesman Ricardo Montalbán.

Although many misquote Montalbán as saying "rich Corinthian leather" or "fine Corinthian leather" in the commercial, he actually says that "soft Corinthian leather" is an available upholstery option for the car.

Corinthian leather is a marketing term that does not actually indicate any particular type of leather. Montalbán confirmed this during an interview with David Letterman, admitting that Corinthian leather means "nothing." According to one reference, Chrysler's "Corinthian" leather was mass produced in a plant in Newark, New Jersey.

So tell me, what do you have at your property that can be your own "soft Corinthian leather"? Look at your bulding(s), your amenities, your finishes...and give your property some cachet by coming up with your own version of soft Corinthian leather. Clearly, if you package it and sell it the right way, it will last for decades.

Share your ideas with me!

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Hmm, 115 hits and no comments yet. Great job Lisa. Thanks for sharing a story that so many didn't even know. Sad to hear we lost such a memorable entertainer. I agree with you the right packaging and presentation can be a difference maker. We all have nuts and bolts, but how we package them and present them is how we can set ourselves apart.

  Mark Juleen
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I think I am showing my age with this post, but it really does tell a great marketing tale. Glad you agree. So what does JC Hart have that's their own brand of 'soft Corinthian leather'? By the way, there is a You Tube video of the commercial if you're so inclined to check it out.

  Lisa Trosien
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Well, I don't think we have anything as sexy as "soft Corinthian leather," but with our communications we all make an effort to ask people to "Enjoy your day." It's so easy to say "Talk to you later, Have a good one, or Take care," but you don't hear too many people asking others to "Enjoy" their day. It ties to the Purpose for our company, and it seems to stick with people. Our onsite teams have told us stories where residents have started saying it, or the mail/fedex guys say it. It's just barely different enough that it's memorable.

Is that what you were looking for?

  Mark Juleen
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Yes! I'm looking for 'signatures' exactly like that! I had a property say to me once, "I hope you really enjoy the rest of your day!" and I loved hearing that because they truly seemed to mean it. And it sounds like your team is the same way. So yes, I'm looking for companies and properties signature touches.

  Lisa Trosien
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I know this was written a few years ago~but I didn't know that "Corinthian" leather was an invented phrase! And I can still hear Montalban saying that phrase in my mind, after seeing those commercials when I was a kid.

  Rommel Anacan

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