Isuzu will be buzzing in advertising activity this year in support of its new upscale sport-utility, the Axiom.
Factory officials told dealers at the make meeting at the NADA convention that Isuzu is targeting about $125 million for advertising this year, up from about $85 million last year.
The biggest part of that commitment is a new wave of TV commercials featuring Joe Isuzu, the comical ad character of the 1980s.
At the make meeting, dealers watched the first new TV commercials that will use the character. In one, a washed-up and heavy-set Joe Isuzu sits in front of his TV, mocking other spots from the brand. In another, the ex-pitchman receives a phone call from the factory, asking him to return to work. He launches into a comical rush to lose weight and return to his former appearance.
Both spots hammer home two points that have had little airing in the market: the $199 a month Rodeo lease rate and the vehicle's 10-year powertrain warranty.
'We haven't been doing a very good job of getting that message out because we haven't been spending a lot,' said Duke Hale, senior vice president of American Isuzu Motors Inc.
The campaign will set the stage for the Axiom's April 10 launch. Isuzu forecasts sales of 18,000 Axioms this year.
The company addressed recent comments by a General Motors executive who questioned the necessity of Isuzu selling sport-utilities. American Isuzu President Yasuyuki Sudo told dealers Isuzu won't leave the sport-utility market.
Another topic was the possibility of obtaining diesel engines for Isuzu vehicles in the U.S. market. Hale said Isuzu is studying the issue.
Isuzu Motors Ltd. and GM have launched DMAX Ltd., a joint venture to produce V-6 diesels in Moraine, Ohio. While intended to supply GM vehicles, Isuzu also could benefit.
'If we're a niche player, why not use the diesels to really differentiate ourselves?' said Isuzu dealer council member Bob Scena, owner of Showcase Isuzu in Bourne, Mass. 'Toyota doesn't have it. Nissan doesn't have it. Ford doesn't have it.'