Informercial Star Passes Away

Discussion
Jun 30, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Billy Mays, who took his exuberant, in-your-face
style to the small screen to sell a whole host of products in commercials
and longer-form infomercials, has passed
away at the age of 50 at his home in Tampa, Florida.

Mr. Mays, who is known for pitching Oxiclean,
OrangeGlo and a variety of other products on television, is
thought to have suffered a heart attack.

“He launched so many products, it was amazing.
I don’t know anyone more recognizable than Billy in the industry,” Mark Biglow,
a sales and marketing executive for Mercury Media, told CNNMoney.com.

Church & Dwight, which hired Mr. Mays to
pitch its OxiClean, Kaboom and Orange Glo brands,
has pulled those spots with his passing.

“It’s premature to talk about future plans.
All of our thoughts are with the Mays family at this time,” Bruce
Fleming, chief marketing officer of Church & Dwight, said in an e-mail
to CNNMoney.com.

Discussion Questions:
What do you see as the future of infomercials? What did Billy Mays mean
to the business and what effect will his passing have on it?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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14 Comments on "Informercial Star Passes Away"


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Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

Guys like Billy Mays and Vince the “Sham Wow” guy will never go away. We love them. Their shtick has made it into our everyday lexicon. These are great salesmen with passion and enthusiasm that is both a little irritating and refreshing all at once. Their goal is to sell us stuff and lots of it, and they do it well. Got that camera guy?

Justin Time
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

Billy Mays and I are from the same hometown, McKees Rocks, PA.

Billy’s style of “in your face, hear what I say,” is really a barker style, refined for TV commercials.

Your ears definitely perked up when you first heard, “Billy Mays here for BLAH….”

The advertiser has the consumer’s attention for only a split second. Billy made the most of that split second. He will be imitated, but I don’t think ever equaled. That guy was the ultimate pitchman.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 10 months ago

I never bought anything that Billy Mays hawked but I found his enthusiasm electric, effervescent. He put his heart into his commercials and that’s was more appealing to me than the bland exuberance of many celebrities testifying to their products today. May another circus-like, Boardwalk-style hawker arise to fill the vacuum. Rest in peace, Billy.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

I think its dumb to pull the ads. They are very effective. Other companies have not pulled his ads and were running this morning. Billy was and still is a good salesman. He was one of the few personalities that I actually admired when watching an infomercial. We will always have infomercials. But getting the right personality is key to their success.

Kevin Graff
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

We’ve always loved guys like Billy Mays, and have often held them up as good examples of how unbridled, pure enthusiasm can win other people over. Forget for a moment the products he so successfully pitched, and just remember the passion he exuded in every one of his infomercials. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see even 10% of his energy put into most retail salespeople’s presentations?

R.I.P. Billy.

Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

Why pull his spots? Every time a show biz celebrity dies (Michael Jackson most recently) we’re buried in their music/movie scenes for weeks. Let his TV spots continue, both for their sales effectiveness and as a tribute. I could never have had a beer with this guy; he’d have made me too nervous to even be around. His style mildly annoyed me. But he sure got my attention, both with himself and for his products. This style isn’t going away. He was one of the best.

Janet Poore
Guest
Janet Poore
11 years 10 months ago

I always muted the sound or changed the channel when a Billy Mays ad came on–his yelling was way too annoying.

There will always be infomercials and someone will come along to take his place as king of the infomercial. At one time it was Ron Popeil. Then it was Billy Mays.

Billy Mays and infomercial producer Anthony Sullivan have a show “Pitchmen” on cable where inventors came to pitch their products to Billy and Tony to get on TV infomercials. Perhaps the show will morph into Anthony Sullivan auditioning new Pitchmen to carry on the torch of Billy Mays–sort of like the American Idol of infomercial pitchmen.

Bob Livingston
Guest
Bob Livingston
11 years 10 months ago

Truly great salespeople had several traits in common. Enthusiasm, passion, persuasiveness, and trust conveyed through the delivery of “their pitch.” Couple those traits with an extraordinary understanding of their product offering that allowed one to demonstrate all of its features and benefits right before your eyes and then close by “givin’ ’em a good deal.”

Combine all of that and you have a Billy Mays. How he did what he did was somewhat spectacular in that he put it all out there with power and passion time and time again and his approach produced repeated results. Very uncomplicated….

James Tenser
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

So long, Billy. You closed your pitch too soon. I imagine your last words might have been, “But wait! There’s more!”

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

…And you know–the stuff he hawked actually WORKED.

I finally bought some Oxyclean–in SPITE of his commercials, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t just completely remove the red wine stains from my white couch.

After that, my ears did perk up when he was hawking a product.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 10 months ago

Shortly after the passing of Ed McMahon, who got his start hawking products on the Atlantic City boardwalk, we grieve the loss of another tradeshow salesman who grew to be widely accepted on TV. Consistently, from automobiles to houses, we do bidness with people we know and like. We knew and liked Ed and Billy.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 10 months ago

Billy Mays style is something I would otherwise find annoying and over the top. There was something very endearing about him, however, that you couldn’t help but listen and smile. Like many one-of-a-kinds, he will be much imitated, but never replaced.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 10 months ago

We’ll all miss Mays and his exuberant contributions to product marketing. As for infomercials, it remains a viable way to hawk goods. Keep in mind that, despite Internet activities, plenty consumers still watch plenty TV and many do it while surfing the Web. Infomercials offer an entertaining, long-form method of educating consumers about products. Along with the unique skills of pitchmen and women like Mays, infomercials help ease consumers into the buy.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

To lose two classic pitchmen in a month–Billy Mays and Ed McMahon–is really stunning. Both learned how to get and hold your attention, and make you want to purchase the product. I participated in a retail meeting last week where registrants talked about how iconic Billy Mays had become, a brand in himself. I’m going to miss him. Be sure to Google “Billy Mays outtakes” for a nice laugh.

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