Joe Isuzu

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David Leisure as Joe Isuzu

Joe Isuzu was a fictional spokesman used in a series of television advertisements for Isuzu cars and trucks. Created by the ad agency Della Femina, Travisano, and Partners, the segments aired on American television in 1986-90, reaching their zenith in 1987 after the character was featured during Super Bowl XXI. Played by actor David Leisure,[1] Joe Isuzu was a pathological liar who made outrageous and overinflated claims about Isuzu’s cars, with one commercial even casting him as the Boy Who Cried Wolf. The campaign was resurrected briefly in 1999 and continued until 2001 to promote several cars such as the Isuzu Axiom. Famous quotes:

  • "You have my word on it."
  • "If I'm lying, may lightning hit my mother." (“Good luck, Mom!” appears on screen.)
  • "It has more seats than the Astrodome!"
  • "Hi, I'm Joe Isuzu and I used my new Isuzu pickup truck to carry a 2,000 pound cheeseburger."
  • "The Isuzu Impulse: faster than a speeding—[catches a bullet in his teeth]—well, you know."

The character became a fixture in American popular culture. In 1988, Michael Dukakis, in a debate with George H. W. Bush during that year's United States presidential election, said, "If Bush keeps it up, he's going to be the Joe Isuzu of American politics."[2]


Joe Isuzu may have had a "twin sister" Joanne (actor David Leisure dressed in a dress, pantyhose, wig and high heels) who appeared in a 1988 advertisement because she "loved her new Isuzu Trooper II."

Leisure also portrayed the character in an A&W Cream Soda commercial in 1992. True to character, Isuzu made outrageous claims about the soda.

Joe Isuzu is referenced in a Family Guy episode, "A Picture is Worth 1,000 Bucks."[3]

In Daily Finance, a subsidiary of AOL, David Leisure is #15 of Top 25 Celebrity Spokespeople of All Time for portraying Joe Isuzu in Isuzu advertisements.[4]