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billymayspic.jpgWhen I read yesterday on TMZ.com that ultimate pitchman Billy Mays would be posthumously pitching for Mighty Tape, my initial reaction was that it was a bit tacky, that the company behind the product, Media Enterprises, was potentially profiting from the death of well-known personality. Now I don’t know what Mighty Tape is and I’ve never been motivated to purchased anything from the man who launched OxiClean into thousands of washing machines, but after last night’s memorial edition of “Pitchmen,” the behind-the-scenes show on Discovery Channel featuring him and rival salesman/best friend Anthony “Sully” Sullivan, I’m willing to buy this miracle product for whatever low, low price they are asking.
While “Pitchmen” was ostensibly all about Billy and Anthony offering years of expertise and support to struggling inventors, it was really the friendship these men shared that made the show. (I still remember when Sully was testing a shark repelling device, swimming off the Florida coast, with Billy gleefully chumming the waters to really test the product and his good friend. Now that’s good television.)


Last night’s memorial retrospective “Pitchman: A Tribute to Billy Mays” drove home what an incredible friendship these two had and illustrated the love and devotion Billy had for his family, his friends, and vice versa. As tale after tale tumbled forth about how much he loved his job, his utter exuberance, and his self-deprecating humor (he referred to his uber-shellacked hair “the helmet”), I couldn’t help but hold back a tear or two. But when Billy Mays III spoke of naming a future son Billy Mays IV and Sully ended the show with Mays’ trademark double thumbs up while chocking back tears, I needed to reach for a Zorbeez super absorbent cloth. I found Paris Jackson’s declaration of love for her father heart-wrenching at the Michael Jackson memorial, and this was an entire hour full of such testimonials.
“We want to honor our friend by airing the infomercials he loved and continuing to introduce consumers to the do-it-yourself products that Billy pitched so well,” said Bill McAlister, president of Media Enterprises, in a company press release. After watching last night’s retrospective, I believe he would find it a great honor.
The commercial begins airing on July 20.
Do you think it’s in poor taste to air ads with Billy Mays now that he is dead? Would you buy the product from a posthumous pitchman?

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