Billy Fuccillo, owner of Fuccillo Kia in Cape Coral, is searching for his next, celebrity TV commercial star following the resignation of Caroline Renfro. Hopefuls have until the end of Monday to apply, and auditions will take place late next week. David Dorsey
Caroline Renfro, Fuccillo’s longtime TV commercial partner, has resigned. Although at first Fuccillo said she was moving to Roanoke, Virginia, where she would train to become a nun, the car dealer backtracked on that during an interview with The News-Press. On Thursday, Fuccillo said Renfro’s departure, an amicable one, was also a mysterious one. He had heard a number of rumors but couldn’t confirm any of them.
Renfro, an actress and Charlotte, North Carolina resident, could not be reached for comment.
“Who knows?” Fuccillo said of Renfro’s future. “She called me the other day, and she said, ‘I’ll call you Thanksgiving.’
"Nobody knows what Caroline's doing right now. But I can tell you one thing. We're looking for the next Caroline right now, and who knows? It could be you."
Renfro’s first name remains emblazoned upon an oversized, red, wooden lawn chair inside the Cape Coral dealership along with Fuccillo’s catchphrase, “Huge.” Otherwise, she no longer will be a part of their marketing plans moving forward.
As for Caroline’s replacement, Fuccillo created nextfuccillocelebrity.com. "Ready to live huge?" the site asks.
Applicants have until before midnight Monday to submit up to 10 photographs and a resume via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Videos of relevant work are encouraged to be submitted as well. A panel of five representatives from the Fuccillo Automotive Group will narrow the applicants to 50 for interviews.
Those seeking to replace Caroline must sign a modeling waiver form, giving Fuccillo permission to use their videos and photos in advertisements. They also must be at least 20 years old.
The finalist will be the face of a successful Southwest Florida franchise, one Kia certified as the top-selling Kia dealership in the world. Fuccillo has sold about 40,000 new cars since opening in late 2010. While the dealership is heavily marketing the Cadenza this month with various incentive deals, it has reshaped the number of Kia Souls and Optimas on local roads. The Soul ranked 29th and the Optima 36th of the nation’s top 398 new cars sold in 2016; they ranked sixth and fifth in Southwest Florida during the same year, according to IHS Markit.
Billy Fuccillo, Kia Soul transform driving in Southwest Florida
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Fuccillo Kia general manager Xavier Villarreal said of the auditions. “The response has been great. It’s going to be a great opportunity for somebody.”
Next Thursday, about 30 finalists will shoot commercials with Fuccillo, after which a winner will be named.
It’s tougher than it looks on TV, Fuccillo said.
“They have to be able to do 180 spots a day,” said Fuccillo, who bought three, 30-second spots during Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night and three for Game 6 as well.
Fuccillo said he recognized not everyone likes his commercials – but they remember them, and that’s what counts.
“A lot of people think they’re going to get a script and do two a week,” Fuccillo said. We’re looking for someone who can walk and talk and do 180 in a day. We go fast. We have to find the right person who can excel and ad lib.
“We’re going to see what kind of personalities they have and how they work with me.”
Fuccillo also has Glorida Ordonez as an on-screen foil. Ordonez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, lives in Miami, where she appeared weekly as a model on the Univision TV show, Sabado Gigante.
Fuccillo said he would miss Renfro. Their commercials ran throughout the year in his Florida and New York markets.
“It’s been more than 10 years,” Fuccillo said. “I found her about 12 years ago.”
At the time, his son Billy Fuccillo Jr., now the owner of two Autonation franchises near Jacksonville, was attending the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Fuccillo Sr. was in town for a football game. While in his hotel, he turned on TV and saw Renfro doing a car commercial. She also did commercials for Harris Teeter, a grocery store chain. He recruited her immediately.
“She was great,” Fuccillo said. “Great sense of humor. She knew how to come back at me the right way. It was a good, back and forth vibe.”
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