Billy Mays (partially found commercials/infomercials starring pitchman; 1980s-2009)
William Darrell "Billy" Mays Jr. was an American direct-response marketing pitchman operating from the 1980s to his death from hypertension on June 28th, 2009. Mays gained a high level of success and recognition throughout his lifetime, including his great impact on television and internet advertising, his iconic loud and brash tone, coining the phrase "Hi, Billy Mays here for...", the Discovery Channel show PitchMen which starred him and his co-worker friend Anthony Sullivan and becoming a classic internet meme. Some of Mays' most well-known endorsed products include OxiClean, Orange Glo, Kaboom, Zorbeez, various Simoniz products, etc.
As Billy Mays starred in hundreds of TV commercials/infomercials, a few have become lost to time. This is due to multiple factors, such as Mays' sudden death, the fact that most people didn't go out of their way to record infomercials (never mind uploading them on the internet later), and Mays not being popular at the time of his early work. Interest for the rare infomercials has especially risen in the wake of Mays' death.
Whereabouts[edit | edit source]
A few clips from various lost commercials/infomercials can be spotted in two tribute videos made following Mays' death, by the Electronic Retailer's Association and Film Florida Legends Awards Ceremony. However, where most of these clips really seem to be sourced from is Sullivan Productions' (Anthony Sullivan's company which directed a large amount of Mays' work) old website. From 2009 to 2011, the videos were stored in-house in the FLV format. None of the video files themselves were archived, making them permanently lost later on. From 2012 to 2013, the site was updated, with the videos now being hosted on Vimeo. It was later found out that all the videos are still functioning, albeit set to display on sullivanproductions.com only, which can be circumvented by using Inspect Element to switch out the video IDs on the current website (or by using youtube-dl with the
--referer http://sullivanproductions.com attribute). Most pages from this era weren't archived, although more videos were found using a script that cycles in-between known IDs. The website was updated again in 2014, and all the Billy Mays infomercials were removed in favor of more up-to-date creations.
1980s[edit | edit source]
Jet Cloth & Washmatik (1983/1988)[edit | edit source]
The Jet Cloth appears to be a super-absorbent chamois cloth, similar to the "ShamWow!" or Mays' own "Zorbeez". The Washmatik is a hose system that pumps water directly from a bucket without being hooked up to a faucet.
Before Mays' TV success, he worked for the houseware marketing company International Housewares. He sold the Washmatik, along with other products such as the Jet Cloth to passersby at the Atlantic City boardwalk, later also pitching at home shows, state fairs, and auto shows. His co-workers at the time would call him "Bucket Billy" due to how often he'd sell the Washmatik.
Mays' pitch for the two products was recorded in 1983, as evident by a private videotape that he owned. Mays is notable here for having a much calmer tone while pitching as compared to his newer infomercials. Multiple clips from the tape are shown in the PitchMen episode, Revenge of the Pitchmen. It's first shown when Mays, in anticipation of re-doing his infomercial for "Zorbeez," plays the tape to his crew, all while getting embarrassed at his younger self's performance. It later re-appears when Mays recalls his life story in the middle of the episode. Another clip appears in the ERA tribute video, although it claims that the recording was done in 1988 instead. Nonetheless, the full tape hasn't resurfaced yet and is probably still in possession of Mays' family.
1990s[edit | edit source]
Home Shopping Network (1996-200?)[edit | edit source]
At the 1993 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, Billy Mays met up with one of his rivals, Max Appel, founder of Orange Glo International. The two salesmen struck a friendship with each other, and Mays was hired to pitch the Orange Glo cleaning product on the Home Shopping Network. He would eventually pitch OxiClean on the channel when it was released in 1997 (making it sell up to 3500 units on the first day), along with other unrelated products. Mays became a common star on the channel, and eventually met his co-worker and future friend Anthony Sullivan through there.
It's currently uncertain how long Mays stayed on the network. Due to the "live show" nature of the HSN, the chances of every session resurfacing are slim. One identified missing session is for the Kaboom cleaning product from around 2002 with host Su Ferrera. It might've been online at some point, as two cropped screenshots exist.
OxiClean - Original 30-Minute Infomercial (1998)[edit | edit source]
Alongside appearances on the Home Shopping Network, a test 30-minute infomercial for OxiClean (and by extension, Orange Clean) was made in early 1998 to air on other TV channels. The infomercial features Mays and Kara Cox, showing off much of the same demonstrations as the live shows on the Home Shopping Network. The infomercial had around a 2.0 MER (Media Efficiency Ratio), meaning that it made back double the money used for its production. The infomercial is also mentioned in Anthony Sullivan's 2017 book, You Get What You Pitch For.
A one-minute clip was uploaded by the infomercial's producer, Rick Cesari. The full 30-minute advertisement was uploaded to archive.org by Mason Hero. It was later reposted on YouTube by user JTWC10 Studios. Around 11 minutes of an edited, German-dubbed (Swiss) version is also available.
2000s[edit | edit source]
OxiClean - Original Infomercials (2000/2001)[edit | edit source]
The first short-form OxiClean infomercial (alongside Orange Glo and Orange Clean) started airing around October 2000 and is probably one of Mays' most well-remembered infomercials (with more than a million views on YouTube). More variants of said infomercial were made, one using the same set as the first one (which includes Orange Glo as the bonus offer as opposed to Orange Clean), and another with a more blue-ish set.
Variant #2 (which there seems to be only one version of) is mostly missing, as well as the 2-minute version of variant #3.
Turbo Tiger/Turbo Tiger Plus (2001/2004)[edit | edit source]
The Turbo Tiger was a lightweight, "turbo-powered" vacuum cleaner sold by Interwood Direct/Tristar Products.
Mays pitched the product around 2001. The infomercial appears to be completely absent from the internet, although photos of the product's box can be found online, with Mays' endorsement on them. Curiously, a few behind-the-scenes photos of a "Turbo Tiger" infomercial can be found on BillyMays.org, but it appears to be a different, 2004 revision of the product named the "Turbo Tiger Plus."  Both products emphasize on the "tiger" in "Turbo Tiger" by having a live tiger accompany Mays.
According to a court case between Tristar Products and Euro-Pro Corp (in regards to the Turbo Tiger allegedly copying Euro-Pro's "The Shark" vacuum cleaner; the case was later dismissed), the infomercial for the original Turbo Tiger started airing in February 2001. It started with the display of a live tiger and Billy Mays, with Mays later demonstrating the product's suction ability by lifting two bowling balls and a table using it. The product is also shown vacuuming a computer keyboard, as well as dirt and debris arranged in lines on a table, and draining a large glass of sand. Throughout the infomercial, Mays also states that "if if doesn't say Princess, it is not the original Turbo Tiger" (Princess being the original manufacturer of the product, with Tristar Products holding the distribution rights in the USA).
Additional photo found on Billy Mays III's Twitter account.
OxiClean - Laundromat (2005-2008)[edit | edit source]
Throughout 2005-2008, OxiClean had a series of commercials set in a laundromat. These mostly focused on showcasing OxiClean's new 2005 formula, which supposedly worked better than ever, as well as OxiClean Triple Power.
It's uncertain how many of these were made, but at least one of them was missing in full, until it was found on November 14th, 2019, as an unlisted embed-only video on Sullivan Productions' Vimeo account.
Simoniz (2006-2009)[edit | edit source]
Starting in 2006, Billy Mays was hired to pitch several products made by the automobile cleaning product company Simoniz. Simoniz' website has a list of all the products supposedly pitched by Mays: Fix-It (a scratch remover), Liquid Diamond (a protective car wax spray), Aquapel (a hydrophobic glass treatment), Fix-It Wood (a wooden scratch remover), and Sealtite (a tire repair kit).
Several variants of the infomercials for Liquid Diamond and Fix-It (Pro) are easily available online. A blog post about the Sealtite infomercial exists, as well as a product box for the Aquapel with Mays' endorsement on it. There's no proof for a Fix-It Wood infomercial starring Billy Mays besides what the Simoniz website claims, making its existence uncertain.
OxiClean - OxiClean Bathroom (2006-2007)[edit | edit source]
OxiClean Bathroom was a short-lived OxiClean product sold through 2006-2007, which doubled as a cleaner & disinfectant for the bathroom.
For a long time, the only proof of this infomercial came from a blooper reel in a collection of blooper reels, which was posted on Anthony Sullivan's YouTube page on September 15, 2006 (later appearing in higher quality on the PitchMen DVD). The reel shows Billy kneeling over a bathtub while holding the product, reaching over the tub to start cleaning before falling over:
"This one powerful product removes tough stains and disinfects all over your bathroom, without harsh (chemicals/fumes)-"
The only footage available was the blooper reel, until the finished infomercial itself was discovered on YouTube by JTWC10 Studios on June 5, 2022.
Ultimate Ladder (2005 and 2007)[edit | edit source]
The SQV ("Safety, Quality, Versatility") Ultimate Ladder was a product sold by Tristar Products that was advertised as having "8 ladders in 1".
Although the infomercial for the product is available online, there's a demonstration that doesn't appear in it. The demonstration involves a telehandler lifting a school bus above four Ultimate Ladders. Mays yells: "Lower the bus!", and the bus gets dropped on top of the Ultimate Ladders, showing off their strength.
Some behind-the-scenes footage of the demonstration has been uploaded by Anthony Sullivan on February 2nd, 2007. Mays says roughly the following in the footage:
"Lower the bus! Lower the bus- This is unbelievable! Thousands and thousands of pounds, the ultimate strength test; the Ultimate Ladder. Look at that, ladies and gentlemen. Live here from... [inaudible] Look at that! This has never been done in television history. Television history- [inaudible] -the Ultimate Ladder, ladies and gentlemen, is the SQV of ladders: safety, quality, and versatility stacked up to value. Before you find another ladder out there, step up in safety and get yours. Look at this, ladies and gentlemen, that's unbelievable! That's television history right here. Look at that. I've gotta tell you something, I've ne-- [cut off] Look at that. The SQV of ladders: safety, quality, and versatility equals value. Ours is the best; you've seen the rest, now get the best."
Both tribute videos and Revenge of the Pitchmen appear to have some footage from the finished infomercial:
"I've been doing this for a lot of years, I've never seen anything like this IN MY LI-- [cut off]"
The description of the behind-the-scenes video, as well at its date, implies that this demonstration was done for a 2007 redo of the product's campaign (with the original infomercial dating back to 2005 according to the VT countdown), similarly to how the Quick Chop and Zorbeez infomercials were remade once rival pitchman Vince Offer started selling the Slap Chop and ShamWow.
Previously thought to have been on the Sullivan Productions gallery, what was found instead was an alternative to the 2005 version's interstitial. Interestingly, this version features a similar demonstration, albeit with an SUV instead of a school bus (further proving the "redo theory").
Magic Carry (2007)[edit | edit source]
The Magic Carry was a harness system that allowed the user to supposedly pick up "two or three times what they can lift normally". The offer of the infomercial included a support pad for extra heavy things, and a set of four Easy Sliders furniture sliders. It was sold somewhere around June 2007. Apparently, it did not sell well, most likely causing the infomercial to be forgotten and lost.
The infomercial, along with any mentions of the product itself, is completely absent from the internet, save for a blog post and an archived version of the product's website, which includes what seems to be a picture from the infomercial. Judging by the set, this one was probably produced by Four Blind Mice (Mays' own production company, whom also made the HomeSmart EZ Bundler infomercial).
Safety Beep (2007)[edit | edit source]
The Safety Beep was a wireless vehicle warning device sold by the Invention Channel. It's designed to be stuck on a vehicle's rear end, beeping while driving in reverse mode to alert any passersby that you're backing up.
The infomercial was missing from the internet (save for a 2-second clip) until November 19th, 2019, when it was found as an unlisted embed-only video on Sullivan Productions' Vimeo account.
Six Shooter (2007)[edit | edit source]
The Six Shooter was a cordless electric screwdriver, with a built-in LED light and revolving cylinder with six different drill bits, sold by IdeaVillage. An additional set of mini bits and a Laser Straight laser level also came in as a bonus.
The infomercial was mostly gone online, with only a few clips surviving on a remix video uploaded in 2008. The uploader of the video is still active but is not responding to requests for re-uploading the Six Shooter infomercial. It was later found in full on November 19th, 2019, as an unlisted embed-only video on Sullivan Productions' Vimeo account.
Energize (2008)[edit | edit source]
The Energize Energy Supplement is an all-day energy & calorie burning pill sold by iSatori. For some strange reason; there was an odd amount of people mistaking the product for an energy drink/spray. The infomercial's offer includes a free trial of Energize and the "The 21-Day Ultimate Energy Plan" book.
The infomercial was missing from the internet (save for a 1-second "Here's how to order!" clip alongside a few behind-the-scenes photos) until November 19th, 2019, when it was found as an unlisted embed-only video on Sullivan Productions' Vimeo account.
Other[edit | edit source]
|Allura Floor Care System||A rebranded version of the Orange Glo Floor Care System.||A promotional picture from the photos section of billymays.org.||Lost|
|Bit Shooter (Master)||A product widely similar to the Six Shooter, although it's more shaped like a regular screwdriver.||A promotional picture in a YouTube video. A blog post from a DRTV infomercial producer also exists. Later found on YouTube.||Found|
|EZ Roller||"The fastest, easiest way to paint anything without the mess, guaranteed". Sold by the SAS Group.||A blog post from a DRTV infomercial producer. Later found on the SAS Group website.||Found (low-quality web version without "call now" part)|
|Fone Free||A wireless cell phone headset. A similar concept was later tried with the Jupiter Jack.||A promotional picture on an old version of the Invention Channel's website.||Lost|
|Grout-Aide||A grout pen. A live demonstration video with Mays can be found online, but a short-form infomercial was made as well.||A blog post from a DRTV infomercial producer. Further proof of an infomercial's existence is the quote: "Don't replace it... reface it!", which is attributed to Mays about the product, although he does not say that in the live demonstration video.||Lost|
|HomeSmart Corner Caddy||A re-adjustable corner shelf that doesn't require any tools to set up. Produced by Four Blind Mice.||A deleted PitchMen scene.||Lost|
|Motor Up Detailers Brushless Car Wash||A car washing tool.||Found on the SAS Group website.||Found (low-quality web version without "call now" part)|
|OxiClean - Over 101 Uses||Mays presumably talks about some of his favorite uses for OxiClean.||A small clip from the FFLAC tribute video.||Partially Found|
|OxiClean Detergent Ball 2||A laundry detergent ball, meant as a replacement for regular liquid detergent.||A clip of an infomercial different from the more well-known "Get on the ball!" one is shown during the ERA tribute.||Partially Found|
|Quik Strip||An automatic, self-adjusting wire stripping tool.||Product box found on the SAS Group website, although unlike the EZ Roller and Motor Up Detailers Brushless Car Wash, the infomercial is not available there. Later found on YouTube.||Found|
|Ragazzi's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria||Self-explanatory.||Shown off in the PitchMen episode "A Tale of Three Billys", where Billy Mays III is tasked to direct his first commercial. It's mostly shown off in the episode, albeit with a few obscured/spoken-over clips.||Partially Lost|
|Steam Buggy||A home steam cleaner. Not to be confused with the Steam Buddy.||Tristar Products' "celebrity endorsements" page. A few clips from the infomercial can be also seen on Tristar's corporate sizzle reel.||Partially Found|
|Unspecified trunk organizing bag||Self-explanatory. The product's name is unknown.||A blog post from a DRTV infomercial producer.||Lost|
|Zip Wrench||An adjustable, wide wrench. Not to be confused with the Grip Wrench.||A product box with Mays' endorsement exists.||Lost|
|Zorbeez Streak-Freez||Similar to Zorbeez, but one side is a micro-fiber.||A product box with Mays' endorsement exists.||Lost|
Old Wikipedia List[edit | edit source]
The following lost product infomercial list comes from an old 2008 version of Mays' Wikipedia page. The list has no references to back it up, and was later removed as it "contributes nothing to the article and is only going to get bigger and longer and probably attract vandalism." Nevertheless, the list also has references to other, previously-unknown products (like Energize, Quik Strip or the Zip Wrench). The list's last rendition can be found here:
- Bloomin' Onion Maker
- Buddy Putty
- Calcium Lime Rust (likely fake; direct competitor of Kaboom)
- Cucco/Cutco Kitchenware
- Currie Motors Chrysler Credit Hotline
- Easy Off Bam! (likely fake; direct competitor of Kaboom)
- ESPN (the sports network)
- FoodSaver (likely mistaken with Anthony Sullivan)
- FreeFone wireless phone holder
- Gator Grip (a different product from the "Gator Grips" pitched by Joe Fowler)
- Genco power generators
- GPS Buddy (from infobox)
- House Dust (Archived website is completely broken)
- Mantis Roto-Tiller
- Miracle Whip (probably from an older version of the list)
- Never-Scrub, tile cleaner (Different product from Kaboom Never Scrub)
- Pwrivel Printing Station
- Raptor-Be-Gone (probably from an older version of the list)
- Shuffles (from infobox, likely mistaken with Anthony Sullivan)
- Street Options Auto Accessories
- Swiffer SweeperVac
- Tommy and Rumble
- Volkswagen Group of America cars
Gallery[edit | edit source]
External Links[edit | edit source]
- Archive channel with most of Billy Mays' found infomercials.
- The Photos section of BillyMays.org, which includes a few photographs taken from the now-lost infomercials' sets.
- 2009-2011 version of the Sullivan Productions website.
- 2012-2013 version of the Sullivan Productions website.
- Preview of Anthony Sullivan's book, You Get What You Pitch For.
- Wikipedia page on Billy Mays.
- Wikipedia page on OxiClean.
References[edit | edit source]
- Telegraph article on Mays' death. Retrieved 07 Sept '19
- DirectStoreTV's listing on the Washmatik kit. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
- Tampa Bay Business Journal's article on Mays. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
- The Seattle Times article on Mays' rise to fame. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
- An article on Orange Glo/OxiClean's origins. Retrieved 10 Sept '19
- Su Ferrera's page on AmIAnnoying, which includes a picture and some details of the Kaboom HSN session. Retrieved 03 Nov '19
- Billy Mays' page on AmIAnnoying, which includes a picture of the Kaboom HSN session. Retrieved 03 Nov '19
- Tristar Products page on the Turbo Tiger. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
- Interwood Direct's page on the Turbo Tiger Plus. Archived 04 Sept '19
- A transcript of the court case between Tristar Products and Euro-Pro Corp, which reveals details about the original Turbo Tiger's infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- Billy Mays III on Twitter: "Here's a picture of my dad with a live tiger." (Picture included) Retrieved 01 Sept '19
- An article on OxiClean's new 2005 formula. Retrieved 10 Sept '19
- Simoniz' "About Us" page, which includes all the products Mays pitched. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- Blog post about the Sealtite, and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- OxiClean Bathroom on OxiClean's old website. Archived 03 Jan 2007
- The Ultimate Ladder's Amazon page. Retrieved 31 Aug '19
- A blog post that mentions the Magic Carry, and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- A blog post about the Magic Carry's fate. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- The Magic Carry's website. Archived 26 Aug '18
- Invention Channel page on the Safety Beep. Archived 15 Oct 2007
- The Six Shooter's website. Archived 21 Dec 2007
- Blog post with details about the Six Shooter. Retrieved 19 Sept '19
- The Energize's page by the time Mays pitched the product. Archived 20 Jun 2008
- CommercialsIHate.com thread about Billy Mays' "energy drink" commercial. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
- Blog post which mentions Mays pitching the Bit Shooter (scroll down to product 4#). Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- Blog post about the EZ Roller and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- Invention Channel page on the Fone Free. Archived 09 Jan 2007
- Blog post about the Grout-Aide and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- A tweet about the Grout-Aide. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- Tristar Products' celebrity endorsement page. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
- Blog post about the unspecified trunk organizing bag pitched by Billy Mays. Retrieved 16 Dec '19