Joe Isuzu - The corporate spokesperson for the
American Isuzu Motors, Joe Isuzu (David Leisure) was a pathological liar who
promised all sorts of wild guarantees for his company's products from 1986-90.
One commercial spot found Joe Isuzu saying "and if I'm lying may lightning hit
my mother." He then proceeded to say that their 4X4 Isuzu Trooper could carry a
"symphony orchestra" or "hold every book in the Library of Congress." The end
was predictable. His poor mother standing beside the car went up in an exploding
puff of smoke.
Joe's trademark signature phrase was "You have my word on it." The Joe Isuzu campaign was created by Della Femina, Travisano
and Partners in 1985.
A series of Joe's offbeat commercials aired during the Super Bowl XXI in January 1987. The Spring
of 1988 found Joe Isuzu sharing commercial time on a Burger King commercial
which jointly promoted a new truck model called "Big Joe" and a new burger
called "Big Cheese." Driving up in his pickup Joe said, "Hi, I'm Joe Isuzu and I
used my new Isuzu pickup truck to carry a 2,000 pound cheeseburger." Then a
subtitle flashed on the screen saying, "Uh oh, here we go again." The joint
promotion idea came from a Southern California marketing firm, the Promotion
President Ronald Reagan once compared Nicaraguan leader
Daniel Ortega to "that fellow from Isuzu." and Chrysler executive Lee Iacocca
proclaimed "If Chrysler isn't the performance company, then I'm Joe Isuzu."
In 2001, Joe's Isuzu returned by popular demand as a company spokesman (instead of
a lying salesman) for American Isuzu Motor's new Axiom SUV model who explains
why his Isuzu Axiom is a better vehicle designed for the “real world.”
The reprised ad campaign by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners/San Francisco begins with
an ad spot entitled "The Call." David Leisure as Joe Isuzu, is now a lot older
and out of shape as he receives a phone call. "Honey it's for you...It' some guy
form Isuzu." The man on the phone then asks "Joe, you ready to sell some
trucks?" Energized that he's back in the race, Joe (exercising to the song "Eye
of the Tiger") begins to jog, skip rope practice karate and chop wood to get
back into shape for his new pitchman gig.
TRIVIA NOTE: David Leisure was born in San Diego. He moved to Los Angeles after
studying drama at San Diego State University. When David got his gig as the Joe
Isuzu character, he was living in his 1964 Volkswagen Bus. One of his first
acting assignments was as a Hare Krishna who begged for donations at the airport
in the zany comedy film Airplane! (1980). He later costarred as Richard
Milligan's obnoxious neighbor Charley Dietz on the sitcom EMPTY NEST/NBC/1988-95. See also - "Mr.