Billy Mays was a cornerstone of the modern day infomercial game. He shouted his way into 10 percent of the 50 hottest commercial spots on TV. Scores of marketers used Billy to pitched everything from wood putty to health insurance. Now they have to face an uncomfortable question... Is it acceptable to run an infomercial featuring a pitchman who is no longer living? And what will become of the Pitchmen Show?
Over the last few days there was speculation that Mays death was a result of the head trauma, but after an initial autopsy on Mays' body on June 29, Dr. Vernard Adams, the Hillsborough County, Florida medical examiner, stated that Mays suffered from hypertensive heart disease and that a heart attack was the likely cause of his death.
Billy Mays Infomercials
Late Tuesday afternoon, Media Enterprises, owner Bill McAlister along with Anthony Sullivan, had a conference call with 15 other marketers who had commercials currently featuring Mays. The group decided to resume airing his ads next week, after the funeral Friday in his Pittsburgh area hometown.
Will the consumer keep buying the products or will Mays' signature opening line, "Billy Mays here," ring hollow now that he is gone? McAlister says that "No one really knows, because this is brand-new territory for everyone." He admitted that he was amazed by all the names in the infomercial world participating in the conference call. "I believe Billy is so big and so loved, his brand will go on. But none of us realized, until we got on the telephone, how much he affected our industry. Ninety percent of my (sales) volume relates to Billy's pitches."
They were just beginning the national rollout of a 30 minute infomercial featuring Mays selling a product called the Dual Saw. Harrington also expects to resume airing Mays' Dual Saw infomercial, inserting an announcement paying tribute to his passing.
Mays' family says that the host would have wanted them to keep the ads going after his funeral and burial. "Billy was a businessman. And when Billy endorses products, he makes money for everyone," said infomercial pioneer Kevin Harrington. He mentions that Mays' estate also will benefit from the success of his ongoing spots. "Ultimately, when the dust settles, his family will want his partners to succeed. It's in both sides' best interests."
Will the Pitchmen Show Go On?
The season finale was aired Wednesday July 1 with a tribute to Billy Mays. Should the show continue, possibly with Sullivan finding a new partner or is the show simply over without Mays? I'm guessing that will probably be the finale of the [tags]billy-mays-infomercial-and-pitchmen-show[/tags]series. Who could ever fill Billy Mays shoes? That's why we all watch the show because he's such a larger than life personality. (Although I sort of questioned his integrity after allowing another inventors idea on the Pitchmen Show.)
Whether the series can or will continue without the energetic Mays is still up in the air. The show has been successful but not a huge hit for Discovery. Wednesday’s episode attracted 1.45 million viewers. Not surprisingly that’s a bump over the show’s usual performance. A spokesperson for Discovery said that, for right now, their focus is to show support the Mays family. A decision about the show’s future will be made at a later date.