Toyota pulls a Leeroy

As described in the Westword story “The Legend of Leeroy Jenkins,” Colorado resident Ben Schulz’s World of Warcraft character Leeroy Jenkins has become one of history’s most famous video-game screw-ups, inspiring Jeopardy questions and appearing on schoolgirls’ T-shirts in Korea. Now, two and a half years after Leeroy first garnered worldwide attention, his persona is getting ripped off again – this time for a car commercial.

Take a gander at this new Toyota Tacoma ad:

It bears more than a passing resemblance to “A Rough Go,” the 2005 in-game video that launched the Leeroy zeitgeist:

Schulz certainly thinks so – and he’s become an expert at spotting odes to his video-game antics. “I thought it was pretty funny,” he says of the truck commercial. “Obviously fairly similar.” He wouldn’t say it’s one of his favorite knock-offs – that honor belongs to the masterful Spike TV “Leeroy in an elevator” commercial and the subtle references in the South Park video-game episode, “Make Love, Not Warcraft.”

Those hoping for more real-life Leeroy shenanigans will be disappointed: “I play a lot less World of Warcraft as of late,” says Ben. “I still go on and play, but only a couple times a week, if that. There’s a lot of stuff going on.”

Stuff like getting like a new job at an engineering firm in the Tech Center. Stuff like moving out of his parents' house to his own apartment in Denver. Stuff like being able to boast, “I have a gorgeous girlfriend now.” (And you thought video-game players couldn’t score chicks.)

Every now and then, Schulz still reaps rewards from his famous alter-ego. Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind World of Warcraft, flew him to California in September to be an announcer at “BlizzCon,” its annual game convention. The Toyota execs responsible for pulling a Leeroy on national TV, however, have been less generous.

“No,” Schulz reports, “they are not giving me a free truck.” – Joel Warner

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner