Maroone, the biggest brand in South Florida’s auto industry, has been retired as of Friday. But the Ghostbusters jingle lives on.
AutoNation, which owns Maroone, is moving its regional chains into one national brand. The first local brand to disappear will be Maroone, with the AutoNation name going out front as of Friday, the Fort Lauderdale-based company announced Thursday.
“I could not be more excited,’’ said Michael Maroone, whose father started the dealership almost 60 years ago in New York and who now serves as COO of AutoNation. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time.
AutoNation, founded by H. Wayne Huizenga, has 210 dealerships in more than a dozen states, each operating under a local brand. The company sees more long-term profit from a single national brand rather than a series of local ones. With competition mounting online among dealerships, AutoNation plans to pump about $18 million into ads during the next two months promoting the company as the nation’s top auto chain.
AutoNation owns 22 Maroone dealerships in South Florida, the largest single chain in the company, Maroone said. The 22 locations were assembled from both the original Maroone chain the company bought in the 1990s and the other local dealerships it acquired. While AutoNation briefly ran a chain of used-car dealerships under the company’s name, this will be the first time new cars will be sold without ties to a local brand.
Maroone’s father, Al, founded the family’s first dealership in New York 58 years ago, and opened his first in Miami in 1976. Both Maroones became large shareholders of AutoNation and Maroone said his father, who turns 90 on Friday, is “very excited” about his name being retired as a brand.
The chain is best known for television ads in which singers belt out “Maroone” to the tune of the Ghostbusters theme. A new round of ads will rework the jingle to revolve around “AutoNation.”
AutoNation has a licensing deal to use the song nationwide, and all AutoNation dealerships have similar customized commercials running in their markets with the local brand in the hook. As the AutoNation switch rolls out in the coming months across the company’s other territories, the new commercials will replace the old ones.
The company also reported an increase in fourth-quarter profits on Thursday, with net income up almost 20 percent to $83 million.