Cape Coral Kia car dealer Billy Fuccillo has hired his new TV and radio commercial sidekick.
McKinzie Roth, 36, replaces Caroline Renfro, who resigned from the role last fall after an eight-year run.
Roth, a model, TV reporter in Portland, Oregon and seasoned commercial star, won the job over about 20 other candidates. She was not present Nov. 9 in Port Charlotte, where 18 of the all-female candidates auditioned. She auditioned separately as well as others that week in Miami because of her schedule. Each of the candidates filmed two commercials with Fuccillo and Gloria Ordonez, a Miami model who has appeared in numerous TV spots over the past decade for Fuccillo.
Roth has almost 25,000 social media followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She has a vast resume of TV and radio experience, having worked as the Indiana Pacers in-arena emcee. She has hosted radio shows in her native Indianapolis and Portland. Roth also spent about 15 years pitching cars for Andy Mohr’s various car dealerships throughout Indiana.
Roth said she has been learning the Kia line of cars and trying to master Fuccillo's catchphrase: "Huge!"
“I’ll tell you what,” Roth said. “I’m a hard worker. I grind. I’m multifaceted when it comes to television and radio. I just like getting to know different people. Of course, being a mom is my No. 1 priority.”
Roth and her husband, Patrick Roth, are parents to Lucy, 7, who is in the second grade.
For the past three years, Roth has been an entertainment and lifestyles reporter for KGW, an NBC TV affiliate in Portland. The cross-country distance from Florida almost cost Roth the job. She said traveling to Tampa took almost eight hours.
“There were pluses and minuses,” Fuccillo said of choosing Roth. “The negative to her, is she’s on the west coast. That makes it tough. One of her friends tipped her off to this job. That’s how she got a hold of the agency.”
The Pinkney Hugo Group, an advertising agency that has contracted with Fuccillo’s 25 New York car dealerships over the past 15 years, assisted Fuccillo in the hiring process.
The decision, however, came down to Fuccillo, whose Cape Coral Kia dealership is acknowledged by the Korean auto maker to be the bestselling Kia dealership in the world since opening off Pine Island Road in December 2011.
“She had perfect chemistry with Gloria and I,” Fuccillo said of Roth. “It went well, all the way around. She’s sharp. She’s quick. You can tell it’s not her first time doing this. She has a lot of experience in radio and TV. So she kind of fit in well with us. But it was tough. There were a lot of girls we liked.”
When the hiring process began in the fall, Fuccillo had talked of giving an unknown a chance. But in the final analysis, he said Roth’s experience won him over.
“The thing it came down to, and our agency felt the same way, was the amount of shots we have to do in a day is so overwhelming,” said Fuccillo, who films about 100 commercials only a few days a year. “You can’t take too many cuts. Every once in a while, you might take a second cut. But normally, we do everything in one cut, and that’s it. The thing with her, we knew she could ad lib.”
Roth and Fuccillo already have taped their first commercials, which will be seen soon. They did a few Friday night at Sacred Pepper, a Tampa restaurant owned by Candy DeBartolo, wife of Eddie DeBartolo, former owner of the San Francisco 49ers.
Roth and Fuccillo reconvened for more commercials Saturday at Fuccillo’s Kia dealership in Wesley Chapel. The commercials will air in Fuccillo’s five Florida markets, with a sixth dealership under construction in Clermont.
Terms of Roth's contract were not disclosed, but she said she will be receiving a Kia Stinger as part of the deal. The sports cars start at $31,000.
Fuccillo turned 62 on Tuesday. Roth turned 36 on Monday. Maybe, Fuccillo and Roth suggested, their identical astrological signs had something to do with their TV pairing.
“We’re Capricorns,” Fuccillo said. “That might have been a factor, too. Two Capricorn nuts.”