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.
Another exaggeration: "It has
more seats than the Astrodome!" 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.
series of these 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 Group.
David Leisure (a.k.a. Joe Isuzu) 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
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.
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."
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. See also - "Mr.
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