(Update on 6-28-09 — Today Billy Mays was found dead in his Florida home.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.)

You know, the guy on TV who yells at you as he sells those amazing products that are NOT AVAILABLE IN STORES!  It started with that silly shammy (But they hold all that water!), or was it Oxy Clean?  And now, OMG, drills, window cleaner, wall hangers, health insurance and that garden drill-thing I have no idea what it does.  His latest product and most poignant expression of the absurdity that is Billy Mays?  The five burger slider cooker.

I don’t hate Billy Mays because his commercials are the most obnoxious on TV or, arguably, the most grating in a decade.  I don’t hate Billy Mays because the claims he makes are over the top.  I hate Billy Mays because I imagine him “laughing all the way to the bank” as we marketers toil away in the belief that presenting the benefits of our clients’ products and services in ways that are consistent with buyers’ expectations is the right thing to do.

Maybe Billy isn’t such a bad guy after all.  Maybe I was just jealous.  Maybe we can learn from him:

  • Like your message has to cut through the clutter to be heard.  Maybe we don’t yell, but you’re right Billy, we have to find a way to cut through.
  • Like you have to demonstrate the benefits.  Bang, bang, bang.  Don’t get to esoteric or ramble.  Simple and direct.  Okay Billy, good point, thanks.
  • And you have to give people an incentive to act.  Yep, right again Billy.

I guess I don’t hate Billy Mays after all.  In fact, I’m growing to appreciate him.  After all, he has become a cultural icon, just check out YouTube (parodies and remixes!):

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tyct9l-fD8 [/youtube]

And clearly the biggest compliment of all, parodies:

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L673I9ute30 [/youtube]

And a promo by his production company (With the bi-line “Television you cannot ignore,” which tells me they are smarter than we think):