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Thursday, July 02, 2009

RIP Billy Mays

The King of Pitch

There's a hole in the heart of our popular culture that all the might putty in the world couldn't fill; the king of the infomercial, Billy Mays, has passed away. Mays was not the first tv pitchman; rather he was the Babe Ruth (well, even though he was Willie Mays, in name) of the marketing style; making them far more legitmate and mainstream (products from TV can now be easily found in department stores, where once they were seen as curiousities most people would only encouter at a state fair). An argument could be made that Mays did as much to change the way television was used to advertise diverse inventions and gadgets as Michael Jackson did to change music. Mays came to the infomercial game just as they were hitting their golden age around 1993, as the growing number of cable channels allowed for larger gaps in late-night/early-morning and weekend programing. His legacy; his impact on a particular niche mode of advertising, and unique place in television history is well assured and fondly remembered.

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