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Direct Response Marketing

Remembering Billy Mays: 1958-2009

1 Jul, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response


The show highlighted product inventors bringing their ideas in front of expert DRTV pitchmen and producers Mays and Sullivan. Not only did the show track the progress of two new products weekly as they made their way toward a final DRTV campaign, but it also allowed viewers a peek at the inner workings of the DRTV business.

Recent buzz in the DRTV business was that "Pitchmen" was set to return for a second season on Discovery. Mays and Sullivan even took a few of the products made famous on the first season of "Pitchmen" on an amusing appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" less than a week before Mays' death.

DRMA Announces Billy Mays Memorial Scholarship
DRMA Announces Billy Mays Memorial Scholarship

"There are no words to describe how I feel about the passing of my great friend and fellow pitchman, Billy Mays," said Sullivan, in a statement on June 29. "I have a massive hole in my heart. Billy and I have known each other for 15 years. We are the greatest of friends. He was the best at what he did ... his uniqueness created an industry that I am proud to be a part of. Discovery Channel's 'Pitchmen' was not only a wonderful experience, but also a great opportunity for Billy and I to let people into our world and see what an awesome guy he was in front of the cameras and show our friendship to the world."

Mays told The Tampa Tribune in an April interview, "One of the things that we hope to do with 'Pitchmen' is to give people an appreciation of what we do. I don't take on a product unless I believe in it. I use everything that I sell."

Mays Miracles
Mays Miracles

It was that belief that set him on the path to stardom, as he passionately believed in Appel's Orange Glo products. However, true to his nature, the humble Mays took almost no credit for his or the product's success in that 2001 interview with Response. "It's actually funny how it all started by just being in the right place at the right time," he said then. "Go figure."

Mays is survived by his wife, son, three-year-old daughter Elizabeth, and previous wife, Dolores. A funeral was held July 3 at St Mary's Church in his birthplace, McKees Rocks, Pa.

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