Friday, September 26, 2008

Why Do You Suppose Ricardo Montalban is Such a Good Pitchman?

When it comes to commercials, most people know Ricardo Montalban from this:

But because that was a little before my time, I actually knew him first from this '80s commercial, which aired during that Disneyland I watched as a kid. (That was the one with "For Whom the Bulls Toil," "The Brave Little Tailor," and "Ben and Me"; I had it on a VHS tape and watched it over and over.) Now I know that this was basically a ripoff of his Cordoba commercial, but it was new to me:

I'm trying to figure out what made the Cordoba commercial so effective -- as entertainment, anyway; I have no idea how many cars it sold. Obviously the commercial is meant to play up the "exotic" appeal, what with the guitar music and Montalban slightly exaggerating his own accent. But I think that's what makes it work. Most celebrities try to act like everyday people when they do commercials, so as to appeal more to the average customer. Or they play the character they play in movies or TV. Montalban is sort of playing himself, but a hammed-up version of himself.


Jenny Lerew said...

Honestly, I suspect that the parody version on SNL is a big reason this became one of those deathless ads...and it was just so, so ripe for satire as itwas already a kind of self-parodic spot-what with all the oozing charm and sensuality being lavished on...a perfectly dull car.

Anonymous said...

Another actor who showcased exaggerated hamminess late in life was Jack Palance.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing Maotalban on Carson after the Cordoba commercial had been on for a while. Johnny asks, "So what does 'Corinthian leather' really mean?'" and Montalban replies with something like, "Oh, Johnny, it doesn't mean a thing."