Joe Isuzu Takes Aim at Car Ads

SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Isuzu is a truth teller of sorts in a new campaign from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, uncovering and satirizing the cliches of car ads. Spending on the effort is $25 million, sources said.

Two new spots for Isuzu’s sport utility vehicles start off like any generic car ads. One shows the Isuzu Rodeo SUV tearing down a mountain pass, covered with mud, music blaring — a scene reminiscent of Nissan Xterra and Toyota 4Runner ads. Suddenly, Joe appears with a boom box. He turns off the music and jokes about how SUV ads always show cars drenched in mud. “We can give you more mud,” he quips, and the car’s spinning wheels cover him in it.

The second spot, for the Axiom, spoofs luxury-car ads. Joe appears on a soundstage in a black turtleneck, hair slicked back. He boasts about the SUV’s “sexy” attributes and styling, and runs his hands over the seats.

The spots stress attributes like extra cargo space and the warranty and end with the tag, “Go farther.”

“Joe has always been a reflection of car advertising,” said Jeff Goodby, partner and creative director at the San Francisco shop. “This came out of seeing what the competition was doing. They use vast, inhuman, unearthly amounts of mud and loud rock music as the basis of campaigns.”

“The intent was twofold,” said Rick Balsiger, Isuzu’s vp of marketing. “To get us the same awareness as other SUV brands, and to let people know that our vehicles offer more. Joe allows us to do it in an entertaining way.”

The ads are breaking now on ESPN and other cable networks. Isuzu spent $60 million last year on advertising, according to CMR.