Southwest Florida car dealership capitalizes on marketing strategy, professor says

His reach is inescapable.

Even if you somehow avoided watching television or listening to the radio for months, odds are an advertising flier printed with the slogan "It's huge" has made its way into your mailbox.

You could also steer clear of your mailbox, but if you drive in Southwest Florida, a Fuccillo Kia billboard will likely catch your eye.

You might think a day hidden at the beach would provide sanctuary? Only until an airplane flies by towing a banner that reads, well, you know: "It's Huge!"

Since opening the Kia dealership in Cape Coral in December 2010, Billy Fuccillo has become one of the most recognizable figures in Southwest Florida with the help of his simple slogan and his homespun advertisements that saturate the airwaves. In a typical month, often with Caroline Renfro at his side, Fuccillo said he shoots 40 television spots, and does 30 radio commercials.

The Cape Coral outpost is the No. 1-selling Kia dealership in the country.

"You think people want to listen to the same one commercial from X car-dealer over and over again? People don't want that, it's boring," Fuccillo said.

"You have to make sure you are different from the rest, and that's what we choose to do."

But not everyone enjoys Fuccillo's style. In 2010, a Facebook page was launched called, "Billy Fuccillo is the most annoying human being on earth." It has more than 13,500 "likes."

Christine Wright-Isak, an associate marketing professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, has heard the same complainants from some of her students.

"I told them, 'Yeah, we're all annoyed, but we all know the name Fuccillo,' " said Wright-Isak.

She added that many of her students drive Kia's because they are affordable.

"We've been listening to 'It's huge-a' forever now, and so consumers start to skip right past the slogan," Wright-Isak said. "So every once in a while, just to spice it up, Fuccillo tells us there's going to be a giveaway."

People love free stuff. And businesses are always looking for ways to get consumers to sample their products. But, as he often does, Fuccillo recently went above and beyond the norm of a traditional giveaway. The often-unconstrained owner of Fuccillo Kia gave away a $120,000 home and six cars in the dealership's second annual Huge-A-Thon event April 2 in Cape Coral.

"When you're huge, you have to come up with huge ideas," said Fucillo, who owns 22 car dealerships nationwide. "Is it effective? Yeah, we sold over a thousand cars last month. That's effective. I did the same thing in New York a couple years back, so I had a pretty good idea it would work."

Fuccillo promoted and marketed the event for more than a month. He said he spends around $250,000 on advertising during a typical 30-day cycle. With his goal of selling 1,000 new Kia automobiles, that figure rocketed to $1 million in January. During Fuccillo's most recent event, nearly 10,000 entries were submitted to win the home in Cape Coral.

"You have to look at the immediate impact on the market, which is a thousand-plus automobiles in use. But more importantly, it's what (the giveaway) does down the road. It keeps people talking and thinking and so over the next two or three months it will bring in more business," he said.

But the marketing campaign isn't only benefiting Fuccillo's dealership. The other two Kia dealerships operating in Southwest Florida, Airport Kia in Naples and Galeana Kia in Fort Myers, said Fuccillo's strategy is good for the Kia brand as a whole.

"He (Fuccillo) has created more brand awareness without a doubt," said Galeana Kia owner Frank Galeana Jr. "Because of the amount of advertising, which other dealers might not be able to put into the market, people are looking at the Kia brand not just at Fuccillo's dealership, but also here in Fort Myers."

Richard Curry, who handles the advertising for the Airport Kia in Naples, said because there are only three Kia dealerships in Southwest Florida, it's logical that Fuccillo's push for product awareness would benefit everyone selling the same brand of automobiles.

"More awareness for Kia products means more people in every showroom," said Curry. "We've definitely seen an increase in traffic; there are many people that shop us because of him."

And despite the sometimes "annoying and loud" advertisements, Wright-Isak said Fuccillo's marketing campaign is very strategic, which is also the key to a successful promotional event.

"Fuccillo has been very clever about getting us to link in our minds his name with his car brand Kia," said Wright-Isak. "In his case, the giveaway idea is likely to work quite well."

Fuccillo also handed out an unexpected present to Patricia Mackenzie at the event. Mackenzie of Cape Coral thought she had heard her name announced during the drawing.

"So she came up with this little baby, right. I made everyone whisper their address to me, and I looked down and it wasn't the same address," Fuccillo remembered. "I said, 'what are you doing?' and she said, 'I'm a single mom and I have two kids.' She looked like she lost her puppy dog, so I gave her a car. It was all good, everyone thought it was the right thing to do."

When asked about giving away a $120,000 home and six cars, Fuccillo said: "I got a little excited and gave away a few cars, but the promotion last month is going be tiny compared to what's going to come out in May. It's gonna be huge-a."

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 35

wentfishn writes:

Caroline, is it HUGE?

Aqua writes:

Ugh. I gotta admire his stamina, but I am really tired of him and his huge.

staghorn writes:

buy American

Max_Headroom writes:

The next car I buy will be from, just to tick people off.

And who is Caroline to him? Wife, sister daughter......?

blueblueblue writes:

in response to wentfishn:

Caroline, is it HUGE?

HAHAHA!

Big MOUTH, little stickshift.

I am soooooo sick of hearing him! He reminds me of a big mouth Italian neighbor I used to have, thank God he moved!

KevinBarnhill writes:

Great article Dr. Chris!

babbas writes:

I'm not sure about anyone else, but if I am listening to the radio or watching television and his slobbering big mouth starts up, I CHANGE THE CHANNEL OR STATION IMMEDIATELY. So I never watch or listen to the loud slob.
In a society that makes stars out of the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and Jay-Z - this guy is just roping in the uncultured masses. He is smart, yet more annoying than anything.

joeblow writes:

Advertising? Yes. Problem is that when you over do it like this guy has done I wouldn't buy a car from him just because its so annoying to listen to the commercials.

fritobandito writes:

I would never set foot on their dealership, let alone buy a vehicle from them, unless they let me run him over with it first. Complete d-bag. All they're good for is polluting the airwaves with their obnoxious ads.

rlberkley writes:

Caroline is a foil for Fucillo. She is his straight man. Remember that old cliché: "I don't care what they say about me, just so they get my name right." By changing his spots frequently, he avoids being stale and people are drawn to them like a car wreck, you want to look away, but you just can't.

beetlejuice writes:

change channel on radio
Gaaaaahd is it hugely newsworthy?
NO

factorfxnews1008 writes:

in response to Max_Headroom:

The next car I buy will be from, just to tick people off.

And who is Caroline to him? Wife, sister daughter......?

Caroline is actually an Actress from north carolina if i remember properly. I read an article a while back about her. BUT rumor also has it that they did have an affair and led to the divorce of billy and his wife. BUT don't quote me on any of this i don't want to be writing slander about...lets be honest a very very very generous man.

EMM writes:

It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't play it ALL THE TIME!!! It's annoying now, i switch channels on the radio and tv just because he just gets on my nerves now. I have met ALOT of people say what a bad experience they have had going there. That's too bad. I guess instead of paying for the advertisement he should now pay for his employees to go to classes on how to treat people with respect and have some humility.

Klaatu writes:

I'm seeing more and more KIA's on the road with his name on them! So say what you want about him. but he's out selling his competitors. High volume and low prices is how he's moving so many.
His showroom is full of customers and the other dealers are scratching their heads! The more obnoxious the commercial the more people remember them!
Worked for Crazy Eddie back in the 70's !
Plus he's hiring while the others are laying off and not min. wage jobs either.
He's collecting and paying tax revenue!

Looks to me the jealous good ole' boys are getting schooled !
By a another Northerner!

It's so easy cause it's FLORIDUH !!!

np writes:

F.markets as an annoying harrasment techique.
The professor's assessment on marketing skills forgets about quality. I believe the F.technique is a form of spam irregardless of mode,that even NDN shouldn't be part of. It's a violation of viewers rights and expectations.

babbas writes:

On a side note, I think it's hilarious when I see cars around town with the dealers' license plate frames still on the vehicle. It seems like everyone leaves them on, but for me that sucker is coming off immediately after I write them the check and drive home (and it will never be a KIA) !!!

Here4Now writes:

I like the guy and his commercials. There, issue settled.

sunburnt writes:

in response to factorfxnews1008:

Caroline is actually an Actress from north carolina if i remember properly. I read an article a while back about her. BUT rumor also has it that they did have an affair and led to the divorce of billy and his wife. BUT don't quote me on any of this i don't want to be writing slander about...lets be honest a very very very generous man.

Ever see Caroline in the really short dress? man I would have an affair with her in a heartbeat.

srsone writes:

in response to WESLEEP:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

he also owns 21 dealerships in New York State...

the kia dealer here is just his first one in Florida...

250,000 isnt much when you consider all of them

Max_Headroom writes:

GM = Government Motors now.

gotero writes:

in response to WESLEEP:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually you don't know what you are talking about.
After checking with two other KIA dealers, He gave us the best deal on a Soul and we actually had more than one color to choose.

gotero writes:

in response to babbas:

On a side note, I think it's hilarious when I see cars around town with the dealers' license plate frames still on the vehicle. It seems like everyone leaves them on, but for me that sucker is coming off immediately after I write them the check and drive home (and it will never be a KIA) !!!

At least he does not use the sticker on the paint with the dealers name. I hate those things and they damage the paint.

No1Uno writes:

Don't care for him, but it he got in the restaurant business he could put most of the so called Naples Originals out of business. They could learn s few things or two about marketing.

As long as I have lived in Naples, all I hear about is some so called Naples Originals, but to this day still can't name one restaurant that is a part of, or marketing themselves as part of that so called organization.

beetlejuice writes:

garbage
easy sell

Iggy writes:

LOL Well folks with all of the dealerships this man owns and have survived this economy I will dare say he knows what he's doing. I think he's loud and very city but hey he's not hurting anyone.

OH as a matter of fact tell me how many of the local businesses have given as much as he has to our communities with his give aways and charity donations? Leave him be.. support people that are supporting your community.. How many people in the area has he employed?

All you all can do is hate. LOL well I am sure he'll let you hate him all the way to the bank because those deposits they are making.. well they are ... HUGE!!!

brianfl writes:

It's a Kia. Thats embarrassing and annoying enough.

freedomsailor writes:

in response to Max_Headroom:

The next car I buy will be from, just to tick people off.

And who is Caroline to him? Wife, sister daughter......?

Gee max, tomorrow when you go to use the computer at the library, why don't you "google" and find out for yourself. You do know how to google, don't you?

DinNaples writes:

Can any of you snow birds from Rochester take him back with you?

Please!

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

in response to GOPWhistleblower:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You didn't make her buy a Obama mobile?? lol- she made the right choice!

DinNaples writes:

That's real funny ET in a KIA. What a cheapskate!

DinNaples writes:

Probably traded in his Yugo!

desperado writes:

DO NOT BUY ANY VEHICLES FROM MERCEDESBENZ OF NAPLES !!!! REALLY WILL RIP YOU OFF !!!!!

Stillinny writes:

He owns a G-5 jet
and sells cars
volume

streetrodder writes:

Desperado...You got that right...NEVER BUY FROM MERCEDES OF NAPLES!

NaplesSparky writes:

Are his commercials annoying? Yes, but not really more so than having to listen to the SAME commercial 30 times a day. At least his are always changing and he's certainly less annoying than that Morgan & Morgan shill, the announcer on one of the other car commercial that incorrectly pronounces it Tah-me-ah-mi Trail, or the thick accented Ballesino's Pizza and Grinders. Even if his commercials bother you and you swear you'd never buy a car from him, you've probably complained about him to a friend and in doing so gave him word-of-mouth advertising that is priceless. I just wonder when he has time to manage and advertise for all his other dealerships as this Cape Coral one must be taking up a significant chunk of his time.

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