As Discovery Channel airs tribute to pitchman Billy Mays tonight, his family OKs continued airing of his commercials
As I originally reported last week, the family of legendary pitchman Billy Mays has given their permission for marketers to continue airing commercials featuring the popular infomercial/spot selling king, who died suddenly in his Tampa home on June 28.
Mays' family issued a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, reached after a conference call held last week with more than a dozen marketers who had built advertising campaigns around Mays. Though Mays' son, Billy Mays III, has made reference to a foundation to be established in his father's name, the Wednesday statement makes no reference to it.
Roger Pliakas, a California attorney representing Mays' family, said in the statement, "Out of respect for Billy's family, most commercials were temporarily pulled off the air as his loss was mourned. While the mourning and healing process will continue for the family, they have graciously given permission for all the people, inventors, companies and corporations to continue using his likeness on television and packaging pursuant to and honoring all existing agreements that he had in place. The family hopes this will be done respectfully and at an appropriate time because they strongly believe this is what Billy would have wanted."
The company behind the Mighty Putty and Mighty Mendit products announced Wednesday they will air the last long-form infomercial Mays recorded before his death, a pitch for the Mighty Tape adhesive strips that featured the salesman repairing a leaky air line while scuba diving -- in his trademark blue shirt and khaki pants.
"It is important to understand that Billy believed in every product he sold, and he loved nothing more than bringing helpful products to people at a great savings," said his wife Deborah, in the statement. "He always enjoyed meeting his loyal fans and taking time to really talk to everyday people."
Discovery Channel will air an hourlong tribute to Mays at 9 tonight called Pitchman: A Tribute to Billy Mays, featuring interviews with family members, his co-workers in the infomercial industry and his co-star on the series Pitchmen, Anthony Sullivan. A spokeswoman for the channel said Discovery had not made any decision on the future of Pitchmen, which aired the last episode of its first season July 1.
Pallbearers copied Mays look for his July 3 funeral, carrying the pitchman's coffin clad in his trademark blue shirt and khaki pants.
Discovery has also created a space on YouTube where fans can upload video tributes to Mays. Click here to travel to the site. Look below to see some of the videos already uploaded there.