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Joe Isuzu Credited With Sales Jump

May 9, 2001

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CERRITOS, Calif. (AP) _ No lie: A resurrected Joe Isuzu is being credited by his client carmaker for a record jump in April U.S. sales.

A 1980s advertising icon, Joe _ with his smarmy smile and exaggeration prone personality _ was retooled into a reformed gentleman and brought back to television in February after a 12-year hiatus.

Joe Isuzu is played by actor David Leisure.

At the time, Isuzu’s chief operating officer for its American unit admitted that name recognition was hovering near an all-time low since the brand debuted in this country in the late 1970s.

Sales for the year 2000 had been the third-lowest in a decade.

But on Tuesday, Isuzu said that sales for the VehiCross, a cross between an SUV and a sports car, had their highest April-to-April increase: 128 percent.

Other models also saw big increases: 73 percent for the Rodeo and 46 percent for the Trooper.

Overall SUV sales shot up 64 percent.

Isuzu Senior Vice President Duke Hale credited Joe for the uptick in sales.

``Joe is definitely working,″ Hale said. ``If you look at our traffic in our top 21 markets where we are running the Joe ad campaign, traffic in those markets, since Joe has come on board, has increased 30 to 40 percent.″

Even after his long hiatus, Joe is still considered one of the most recognized commercial characters ever.

Three new Joe Isuzu commercials are shooting this week to air next week, company executives said.

Executives said they plan to use Joe indefinitely and will be developing his character in future spots.

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