Death of a Salesmen, Almost: Billy Mays Ads Live On

Jul 9, 2009 7:03pm

ABC's Troy McMullen reports from New York: Death hasn’t stopped TV pitchman Billy Mays. Viewers can still find him – in his signature sport shirt and khaki paints — hawking everything from OxiClean to Orange Glo even though he’s been dead since June 28.
  One of his commercials is even being introduced posthumously. And tonight Discovery Channel will air a one-hour documentary, "Pitchman: A Tribute to Billy Mays." Playboy Magazine, meantime, features a profile Mays in its July/August double issue, now on newsstands. Playboy says it was his last print interview. "Our feeling is, everyone wants to have Billy go on," Bill McAlister, president of Media Enterprises, a sales and marketing company based in Trevose, Penn., tells the AP. "This is what he would have wanted." Mays got his start on TV on the Home Shopping Network and then branched out into commercials and infomercials. He developed such a strong following that he became the subject of a reality TV series, Discovery Channel's "Pitchmen." Experts say it’s not at all surprising that Mays still appears in television ads. Most firms own the advertising rights to TV commercials and can usually air them as long as they’d like. Royalties are typically worked out in contracts months in advance, and Mays' estate will likely continue receiving some kind of compensation each time an ad airs, say industry experts. Mays’ attorney, Roger Pliakas, told the AP that it's not clear which among Mays' product pitches will continue to be broadcast, and for how long. “We're waiting to hear what the companies want to do.” Among the highlights of the Playboy interview: Mays' popularity among gay men: "One website is dedicated to fans who want to have his baby, though most of those fans are gay men who like so-called hairy bears. They call him 'one of the hottest bears on the market' and beg to be able to 'boff that bear,'" writes Pat Jordan, the author of the Playboy article.

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