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Say it ain't so, Joe!

Joe Isuzu is back, and he's in good company. Adages has learned that actor David Leisure, of "Empty Nest" fame, will recreate his beloved, lying Joe Isuzu role for American Isuzu Motors' 2001-model ads. Joe Isuzu debuted in 1986 in ads from Della Femina, McNamee, New York. In the TV spots, Joe touted Isuzu's "top speed of 300 mph. ...They're selling them for $9. ...And if you come in tomorrow, you'll get a free house." Printed disclaimers appeared below these fibs with the correct information. Joe disappeared from Isuzu ads in 1990.

Then again . . .

Disclaimers might be in order for some ad-industry leaders who have been caught red-handed spreading Joe Isuzu-like misinformation. Several weeks ago, when rumors spread that Lee Garfinkel was leaving his position as chief creative director at Lowe & Partners, New York, John Dooner, CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos., which owns Lowe, categorically denied the Garfinkel move. Days later, Garfinkel (who some people in the industry have begun to call the "Garfickle Tickle," for jumping around shops) bolted from Lowe. And then there was the case of Bob Kuperman, CEO of the Americas for TBWA Worldwide, who was said to be leaving that shop to become chairman of the New York office of sibling Omnicom shop DDB Worldwide. Kuperman was contacted by Adages early last week and adamantly denied the story. "There is no truth to that," he said. "For now I am very happy where I am." Later, he was apparently unhappy where he was, because Omnicom CEO John Wren informed the press Kupe was indeed flying the coop to join DDB. When told of Kupe's bout of Isuzu-itis, Wren hazarded, "Well, maybe he wasn't going to DDB that particular day." Right.

Bush man

Which brings us to the new Mr. Big Guy. Stuart Stevens, who was one of the chief ad advisers for George W. Bush's Maverick Media ad team, has signed with Simon & Schuster to pen an anecdotal book about life in the Bush campaign, to be published this summer. Stevens said last week, "There is some very funny stuff about [ Young & Rubicam, New York, President Jim] Ferguson and the Y&R crowd," he says, adding that the book is more "an affectionate" look at the campaign than a "kiss and tell" tome.

Ferg's take? "A kiss and tell?" he asked. "We were in lip lock."

Come back, kid

OK, so Joe's back, but what about the biggest comeback kid of all? Will ex-president Bill Clinton shill for a cholesterol drug? Merck & Co. was understandably psyched when word leaked that the Big Guy's doctor had put him on its blockbuster Zocor to help lower his cholesterol. Coincidentally, Merck might be looking for a new Zocor pitch celeb soon since football coach Dan Reeves has been on the air for more than a year and no longer helms a winning team. A Merck spokeswoman says spots that Ogilvy & Mather, New York, created with Reeves and a couple sailing will run through the year and the company "is not expecting" a call from Clinton. "He's busy," she says.

Got an Adage? Tell Richard by phone (212) 210-0243; fax (212) 210-0200 or e-mail, rlinnett@crain.com.

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