Billy Mays (partially found rare commercials/infomercials starring pitchman; 1980s-2009)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

BillyMays.png

Billy Mays, pictured.

Status: Partially Found

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.[1] Mays gained a high level of success and recognition through 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

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 2009-2011, 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 2012-2013, 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 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

Jet Cloth & Washmatik (1983/1988)

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.[2]

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.[3][4]

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 to 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.

Footage complied from Revenge of the Pitchmen and the ERA tribute video.


1990s

Home Shopping Network (1993-200?)

On 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.[5] 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 had Mays stayed on the network. Due to the "live show" nature of the HSN, 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.[6][7]

"Where's Billy?" promo from July 1997.
Semi-incomplete pitch for OxiClean from the "Talk Shop" program.
Clip from a 1998 OxiClean pitch.
Incomplete pitch for the Euroshine Dutch rubber broom from the "Sunrise" program.

OxiClean - Original 30-Minute Infomercial (1998)

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.[5] The infomercial features Mays and an unknown host, 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.

Out of the 30-minute runtime, about 1 minute has made it online, uploaded by the infomercial's producer, Rick Cesari. Around 11 minutes of an edited, German-dubbed (Swiss) version is also available.

The available (English version) clip.
The German-dubbed version.

2000s

OxiClean - Original 2000/2001 Infomercials

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.

The well-known, 2-minute version of variant #1.
60-second version of variant #1. Uses the same footage as the 2-minute version.
A clip from variant #2 (0:21).
60-second version of variant #3.
A clip from the 2-minute version of variant #3, and two clips from variant #2.

Turbo Tiger/Turbo Tiger Plus (2001/2004)

The Turbo Tiger was a lightweight, "turbo-powered" vacuum cleaner sold by Interwood Direct/Tristar Products.[8]

Mays pitched the product around 2001.[3] 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".[9] 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).[10]

OxiClean - Laundromat (2005)

A screenshot of the lost commercial, courtesy of Sullivan Productions' old website.

Throughout 2005, 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.[12]

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.

15-second spot.
30-second spot.
The previously lost 30-second spot.
15-second spot for OxiClean Triple Power.
30-second spot for OxiClean Triple Power.

Simoniz (2006-2008?)

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 For Wood (a wooden scratch remover), and Sealtite (a tire repair kit).[13]

Several variants of the infomercials for Liquid Diamond and Fix It are easily available online. A blog post about the Sealtite infomercial exists,[14] as well as a product box for the Aquapel with Mays' endorsement on it. There's no proof for a Fix It For Wood infomercial starring Billy Mays besides what the Simoniz website claims, making its existence uncertain.

A variant of the Liquid Diamond infomercial.
A variant of the Fix It infomercial.
A non-Billy Mays version of the Fix It For Wood infomercial.

Ultimate Ladder (2007)

Picture of Mays during the demonstration.

The SQV ("Safety, Quality, Versatility") Ultimate Ladder was a product sold by Tristar Products that was advertised as having "8 ladders in 1".[15]

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 has the Ultimate Ladder. Look at that, ladies and gentlemen. Watch here, at the- [inaudible] -ever. 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 never seen anything like this- [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 LIFE!"

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").

The Ultimate Ladder's 2005 infomercial, in which the school bus demonstration does not appear.
Footage compiled from the two tribute videos and Revenge of the Pitchmen.
The "alternative" version of the 2005 interstitial, with the SUV demonstration.
Behind-the-scenes footage of the demonstration.
Additional second of footage (3:00).

OxiClean - OxiClean Bathroom (2007)

OxiClean Bathroom was a short-lived OxiClean product sold through 2007, which doubled as a cleaner & disinfectant for the bathroom.[16]

The product.

The only proof of this infomercial comes from a blooper reel, which was posted on Anthony Sullivan's YouTube page in 2007 (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 finished infomercial itself is missing, and all that's available is the blooper reel.

The blooper reel (1:30).

Magic Carry (2007)

A supposed picture taken from the infomercial.

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.[17] It was sold somewhere around June 2007. Apparently, it did not sell well, most likely causing the infomercial to be forgotten and lost.[18]

The infomercial, along with any mentions of the product itself, are 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.[19] 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)

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.[20]

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.

The full infomercial.
An alternative version of the infomercial, which doesn't feature Mays.

Six Shooter (2007)

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.[21][22]

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 of 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.

The full infomercial.
The remix video (Six Shooter clips start at 0:25).

Energize (2008)

The Energize Energy Supplement is an all-day energy & calorie burning pill sold by iSatori.[23] For some strange reason, there was an odd amount of people mistaking the product for an energy drink/spray.[24] 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.

The full infomercial.

Other

Product Description/Note Proof Status
Bit Shooter A product widely similar to the Six Shooter, although it's more shaped like a regular screwdriver. A blog post from a DRTV infomercial producer.[25] Lost
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.[26] 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
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
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.[27] 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.[28] Partially Lost
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.[29] A few clips from the infomercial can be also seen on Tristar's corporate sizzle reel. Partially Found
Zip Wrench An adjustable, wide wrench. Not to be confused with the Grip Wrench. A product box with Mays' endorsement exists. Lost
YouTube review of the Zip Wrench (showing the endorsed product box).
Billy Mays' live demonstration of the Grout-Aide.
Shooting of the HomeSmart Corner Caddy infomercial.

Old Wikipedia List

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 or the Zip Wrench). The list's last rendition can be found here:

  • Bedazzler
  • Bloomin' Onion Maker
  • Buddy Putty
  • Calcium Lime Rust
  • Cucco Kitchenware
  • Currie Motors Chrysler Credit Hotline
  • Easy Off Bam!
  • FoodSaver
  • FoneFree wireless cellphone headset
  • FreeFone wireless phone holder
  • Gator Grip
  • Genco power generators
  • House Dust
  • Mantis Roto-Tiller
  • Pwrivel Printing Station
  • Quik Strip wire stripping tool
  • Street Options Auto Accessories
  • Swiffer SweeperVac
  • Tommy and Rumble
  • Turbo Vac vacuum cleaner
  • Volkswagen Group of America cars

Gallery

The ERA tribute video.
The FFLAC tribute video.

External Links

References

  1. Telegraph article on Mays' death. Retrieved 07 Sept '19
  2. DirectStoreTV's listing on the Washmatik kit. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tampa Bay Business Journal's article on Mays. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
  4. The Seattle Times article on Mays' rise to fame. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
  5. 5.0 5.1 An article on Orange Glo/OxiClean's origins. Retrieved 10 Sept '19
  6. Su Ferrera's page on AmIAnnoying, which includes a picture and some details of the Kaboom HSN session. Retrieved 03 Nov '19
  7. Billy Mays' page on AmIAnnoying, which includes a picture of the Kaboom HSN session. Retrieved 03 Nov '19
  8. Tristar Products page on the Turbo Tiger. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
  9. Interwood Direct's page on the Turbo Tiger Plus. Archived 04 Sept '19
  10. 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
  11. Billy Mays III on Twitter: "Here's a picture of my dad with a live tiger." (Picture included) Retrieved 01 Sept '19
  12. An article on OxiClean's new 2005 formula. Retrieved 10 Sept '19
  13. Simoniz' "About Us" page, which includes all the products Mays pitched. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  14. Blog post about the Sealtite, and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  15. The Ultimate Ladder's Amazon page. Retrieved 31 Aug '19
  16. OxiClean Bathroom on OxiClean's old website. Archived 03 Jan '07
  17. Blog post that mentions the Magic Carry, and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  18. Blog post about the Magic Carry's fate. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  19. The Magic Carry's website. Archived 08 Feb '11
  20. Invention Channel page on the Safety Beep. Archived 15 Oct '07
  21. The Six Shooter's website. Archived 21 Dec '07
  22. Blog post with details about the Six Shooter. Retrieved 19 Sept '19
  23. The Energize's page by the time Mays pitched the product. Archived 20 Jun '08
  24. CommercialsIHate.com thread about Billy Mays' "energy drink" commercial. Retrieved 01 Sept '19
  25. Blog post which mentions Mays pitching the Bit Shooter (scroll down to product 4#). Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  26. Blog post about the EZ Roller and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  27. Blog post about the Grout-Aide and Mays' infomercial. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  28. A tweet about the Grout-Aide. Retrieved 23 Sept '19
  29. Tristar Products' celebrity endorsement page. Retrieved 23 Sept '19