Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I've been quiet about the whole celebrity death-athon we've seemingly been on in the last week mainly because I dug Charlie's Angels, but had no real interest in the career (or hair) of Farrah Fawcett.

Likewise with Michael Jackson, I really stopped caring about him once he started becoming really, really weird and made mostly out of plastic. Sure, I tried to moonwalk in my day, I know the words to all his most popular songs and my sticker book in second grade was full of Thriller stickers, but he just wasn't my thing.

Their passings were sad, but we knew Farrah was dying so it kind of eased the blow, and I contend that the real Michael Jackson died years ago shortly after his sanity snapped. (Of course, I'm intrigued by emawkc's fabulous conspiracy theory, since I love theories like that.)

I was very surprised about Billy Mays. I loved that guy because he contridicted most rules of good marketing.

He was cheesy.

He was very, very loud.

He sold products with too-good-to-be-true claims.


He was convincing.

You know you had your credit card ready for the operators standing by.

You believed in what he was selling because he told you it was awesome.

He could make you stop what you were doing and watch him shill for OxyClean, OrangeGlow, etc.

Billy Mays was a self-made man, and don't we just love that in America, The Land of Opportunity? You could tell he was a genuine guy if you ever watched his show Pitchmen.

In a crazy world of late night infomercials with characters like the guy in the question mark suit who wants to show you how to get millions of dollars in government grants, Mama Cleo and her fake Jaimaican accent, and ShamWow-I-got-bit-by-a-hooker Vince, Billy gave credibility to the infomercial form of advertising.

Because of his guy next door personna, you believed him and As-Seen-On-TV products were taken more seriously.

As a marketer who has worked the Home Show circuit, there are tons of "product demonstrators" out there. Some are good, some really suck. Wandering the crowded isles, you can tell who cares about the product they are selling and who is watching the clock for their shift to end. This is one reason Billy was such a great pitchman.

If you've seen the show Pitchmen, which is basically about inventors trying to get Billy Mays and Ron Popeil to endorse their products, you understand the power of the "Hi, Billy Mays here for-" seal of approval. Billy was his own product and also a firm promoter of cool stuff you didn't know you needed, but couldn't possibly live without.

I'm saddened by the ad world's loss of such a great guy. I wasn't going to really post anything about it, but I saw this picture over at Celebrity Pics this morning and decided to scribble/type this.

Thanks, Billy for the OxyClean, but you can keep the Big City Sliders. Rest in Peace...


MGW said...

My ears always hurt when Billy came on the air because he amped up the volume so incredibly. I couldn't change the channel fast enough when he was talking -- and he's probably one of the top ten reasons I turned to DVR for most of TV watching. Like you, though, I'm not incredibly "distraught" over the deaths of Jackson, McMann, and Farrah. None of them, actually, except Billy in a very strange way, were relevant to today's media onslaught. But them I'm old enough so I'm probably not "au courant" about today's media heros. I do remember when Thriller came out that nearly every one of my students had some sort of red leather (pleather) jacket like Michael's. It was the fashion statement for the next two years. MGW

MoxieMamaKC said...

Oh man, I forgot Ed! I guess I can stop waiting for him to ring my doorbell...

Hyperblogal said...

There were probably thousands of really good people who died in the last 10 days about whom we will hear nothing. That is the real tragedy of life in the media age.

Beautiful Mess said...

You did a great job! I love that picture! His loss has had a huge impact on our household. I'm praying for all of his friends and family.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

The saddest thing about all of this is that my kids didn't know who Farrah Fawcett was and my kids didn't know that Michael Jackson was black.

Billy's family must be shocked. He was so young and healthy. How sad.


alissa said...

first up - i just cant get on the train with all of the celebrity death stuff. they died. and its very sad.
but i cannot watch one more 30 min news story on the details that no one needs to know. booo

second - yeah for another kansas city blog! i saw your comment over at the lucky stone.