23 November, 2009

Where's BIlly Mays: I Didn't Even Make It Past the First Round

Halloween is nearly a month old, but I'm finally getting around to recounting the results of the Where's Billy Mays "HallowClean" contest. And Sadly, yours truly didn't even make the top 500. A travesty I'm sure. If you weren't aware of the contest, you probably should leave your cave once in a while, or at least use the wi-fi in your cave to visit some other websites. I heard about it through WOM, but the contest was covered by a variety of media outlets from TMZ to the Huffington Post to People. And according to his son, Billy Mays III, the contest received more than 1500 entries, including this, that I took in our pristine Renegade men's room.

The awesome thing is, I was planning this costume since last Halloween. And the Kaboom, did I buy it at the grocery store just for this special day? No, I took it right out from under my counter. And the next day I used it to clean my shower, which had turned a lovely shade of black from the combination of hairspray and mascara I used to get the full Billy Mays effect.

You can view the finalists at wheresbillymays.com. I'm not quite sure what put those 3 winners over the top. Personally, I loved the Billies who paired themselves up with full-sized bottles of Kaboom and tubs of Oxi-Clean. But I am jealous I won't get the autographed picture to frame and put on my bare office wall. Too much time being brilliant, no time to decorate. On the bright side, I did win our office Halloween contest, and the costume was a huge hit at the Halloween wedding I attended the next day. And no, at no point did I consider putting some white powder under my nose as was recommended to me by about a dozen people.

But to make sure I got the details right, I looked at a few pictures of Billy and watched a few of his informercials. Aside from the obvious blue shirt (which he didn't always wear) and the khaki pants, I noticed a few things I'd never realized before. He always rolled up his sleeves. Did that give the viewer the subtle message that Billy was a man who wasn't afraid of hard work and getting dirty? In both the Ding King and Dual Saw spots (two of the few where you see his feet) Billy is wearing sneakers. Not fancy dress shoes or loafers, regular sneakers.

And the beard. The beard has had its ups and downs throughout history, but in many circles, beards equate to strength and manliness. My old roommate frequently laments how after a month he still can't grow more than a sad attempt at a 9th-grader's stubble...and cries just a little. Sorry, Adam. Yes, I'm sure there are many arguments on both sides of this point, and you can feel free to tell them to King Leonidas or any Hell's Angel you run into. I'm simply saying Billy's Paul Bunyan-esque beard and powerful delivery could both be received by the viewer as signs of strength.

Now granted, this all may simply have been Billy's style, but, much like watching Pitchmen, it shows me Billy Mays was more than a guy yelling about cleaning products. He knew plenty about how to sell.

Anyway, this Halloween I paid tribute to an ad-man I very much admire. And here's another tribute from a Billy fan. Enjoy. And Billy, I hope to continue seeing the Dual Saw, Ding King and Mighty Mendit infomercials for a long time.

--George Convery, Copywriter

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1 others 'fessed up:

Sean Rushforth November 24, 2009 at 1:20 PM  

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