“How fast is the new Isuzu Impulse Turbo?” asks Joe Isuzu, the compulsively lying spokesman, played by actor David Leisure. He fires a gun in the desert, hops into his shiny red Isuzu and speeds off, outraces the bullet, stops in a cloud of dust, exits the car, holds up a paper target, and with a Ron Travisano trademark touch, catches the bullet in his teeth as he concludes, “Faster than a speeding…well, you know.”
Travisano, of Travisano DiGiacomo Films, directed the award-winning 1988 spot, and hundreds of others during his 16 years at the helm of his own film company. By 2001, he was at Three Strand Cord Productions, directing, writing and producing, taking home—among many other awards—a Gold and Silver Lion at the Cannes Film Festival.
But rewind back to 1960 and you’ll see the Pratt Institute grad starting in the supply room at Young & Rubicam, making his mark at Marschalk and then Delehanty Kurnit and Geller as an art supervisor. All before one of the best partnerships in the business, with Jerry Della Femina, at the agency they started together in 1967. For 17 years Della Femina, Travisano & Partners was red-hot, part of the creative revolution, eventually billing $250 million per year, with 300 employees and offices in both New York and Los Angeles. They created the fictional Joe Isuzu and did great work for Beck’s Beer and Pan Am. Travisano conceived the Meow Mix Theme where the cat appears to sing, one of the most memorable campaigns ever.
An accomplished painter, Travisano works in many mediums—oils, watercolors, pen and ink—creating realistic portrayals of associates, elderly women and, once, Voltaire. For the last 12 years, he has been a visiting professor at Pratt.