I know what you’re thinking. “What did Billy Mays do that made him so famous?” An answer to that question would be too long to answer. An easier question would be: “What didn’t he do that made him so famous?” Billy Mays was a pitchman, but not the annoying ones that you see on regular television, a generous man that had extreme passion in his products and was very cohesive with the companies he pitched for. Starting in 2000, Billy Mays appeared on many infomercials, including Oxi Clean, Kaboom, Mighty Putty, Mighty Shine, Big City Slider Station, Jupiter Jack, and so much more. But it wasn’t the performance of the products that made him so popular; it was his shouting voice and confident smile that made him the life of the party. Due to his high publicity, Billy Mays ventured through a forest of criticism, yet he still made it out no matter what. WHY AM I SHOUTING?!? YOU’D BE SHOUTING TOO IF KNEW HOW AWESOME BILLY MAYS IS!
Billy Mays was born on July 20, 1958, and was raised in Pittsburg. After dropping out of West Virginia University, he worked for his father’s toxic waste trucking company. In 1983, Mays moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the sun of Billy Mays’s pitchman career made its first rays through the window, as he learned from older examples and started pitching products to public events. During one of his trips, Billy Mays made friends with the founder and owner of Orange Glo International, Max Appel, after lending him a microphone in place of his original, broken one. Because of this, Max made Billy his company’s orator. In the late 1990’s, Billy started Mays Promotions Inc., the company which created the infomercials he starred in, in Dunedin, Florida. This company helped out with other businesses in Tampa Bay by advertising their products. Initial infomercials started in 1999, assisting Orange
Glo circulate the news about their products. Because of his outstanding productivity, Billy Mays got a voice in the designing of his own commercials, and even got a share of the profits generated, making him a very rich man. And because his commercials were broadcasted many times, Billy’s publicity crashed through the roof, as people desired autographed photos of him. But just like Barrack Obama, his popularity produced enemies, who made negative reviews showing that the products didn’t actually work the way the infomercials claimed they would. Such critics point their attention to how “annoying” or “obnoxious” he was. More advanced critics may say that he wasn’t as passionate in his products as he showed
us he was. For example, an episode of Pitchmen showed Billy Mays refusing to run of his hand with Impact Gel, revealing that he wasn’t very trustworthy in his product. Even so, fan-sites were dedicated to him, on-the-air interviews starred him, and even a television series on Discovery, Pitchmen, featured Billy Mays and his friend Anthony Sullivan. Unfortunately, the race of Mays’s life had a brick wall as a finish line. The infomercial legend passed away in his house in Tampa, Florida around 7:45 A.M. Billy was fifty years old.
So why Billy Mays? It may be true that Billy Mays wasn’t the most famous person in the world, but he sure did bypass many. First of all, he was entertaining. Just think about commercials, those video clips on TV that you partially watch, mostly ignore between your favorite television programs. It’s such a small moment in your life that you most likely won’t remember. Talking about such a small thing, and making it a huge topic, is quite humorous. A good example is on YouTube, just search “Billy Mays”. Bad news for Mighty Brand, their company will never generate the same profits again. No pitchman can replace Billy Mays, and whoever’s smart idea it was to replace him with that boring lady narrator needs brain surgery. It’s better to feel that there’s a man, with feelings and opinions, behind the camera being passionate about the product that you plan to purchase, unlike that computer generated speech
that the company tells it what they want it to say. The only reason why Billy Mays’s death didn’t get the right amount of attention it deserved was obviously Michael Jackson’s death near the same time. In my opinion, Billy’s death was near, if not equal to, the importance of Michael Jackson’s. The king of infomercials with an avid voice is a bit more entertaining than a man with a magnetic nose and a strange history. In final words, Billy Mays was a great man. He wasn’t as lukewarm as Anthony, or as evil as Vince, he just put his thumbs up looked at the camera with a booming voice and beard that said, “Hello World! Here’s how to order.”
1 News, Fox. “RAW DATA: Billy Mays Biography”. Fox News. August 29, 2009 .
2 News, Fox. “‘Infomercial King’ Billy Mays Found Dead In Home”. Fox News. August 29, 2009 .