Billy Mays would be rolling over in his freshly dug grave if he knew what they were selling on TV these days. The buoyant, bearded salesmen’s earnestness was a beacon of light in the otherwise dark and sullied world of impulse buying.
Never mind that an autopsy recently revealed he had cocaine and three prescription painkillers in his system at the time of death. Focus instead on his charisma, candor, and clean cut, khaki-wearing persona. He was a self-made success story: an embodiment of the American Dream.
Also, you should probably ignore the creepy funeral where everyone dressed like Marshall’s menswear department employees, ostensibly in homage to Mays.
Then there’s the fact that he was buried in an OxiClean shirt, which itself would seem creepier if Michael Jackson’s family hadn’t already upped the ante. So, for the record, just ignore both of those facts and that little cocaine thing.
Wait a second. You’re distracting me, here.
In his brief life as an international celebrity, Mays hawked over 30 ready for prime-time products and services, everything from affordable health insurance to vegetable choppers. He even got a “legit” gig parodying himself in a series of ESPN commercials.
Like Ron Popeil before him, Mays claimed to use every product he endorsed. Good thing he didn’t endorse Doc Bottoms Aspray™:
In one foul swoop, Doc Bottoms references butt odor (three times, including one where a grown man sticks his face in another man’s ass), under-breast odor (two times), and even show’s one unfortunate lady crossing her legs before spraying up her skirt. Never mind the implications of needing a deodorant to mask an overactive social life. Why would she cross her legs first? Makes no sense. All manner of feet are mentioned, and the word privates is used. Truly a high point in Western Culture.
But that’s not all. Check out this ad by Mays’ friend/lesser pitchman, Anthony Sullivan:
Sullivan claims his mop won’t drip. Like some pre-programmed robot with his switches set to sell, he stiffly turns, beeping out, “To prove it, I’ll hold it over my head.”
What he won’t do, however, is actually show video of himself doing what comes next. He claims that “in these tough times” its wise to ring the soda off the floor, through his mop, and back into its original glass, ready to drink. Are times really that tough?
Probably not. I think both of these spots are far more post-modern than they might initially appear. They follow the same self-aware trail Mays himself blazed in his work for ESPN. Mays never breaks character in the spots, yet the whole premise is too ludicrous to be serious. Um. Right?
Doc Bottoms uses its gross out images as a talking point, water cooler chat for the, groan with me now, YouTube generation. The same is true of mop-huckster Sullivan. He knows that no one is really going to drink soda off their floor. He also knows that bloggers and the Twitterati are just as lucky to push awareness of his product as he is. I guess you could say we’re all part of the same meta-problem.
Near the end of the Smart Mop commercial, the creators make some kind of Pollockian mess with sand, ketchup, and mustard. It sounds, and looks, like the worst picnic ever. The Smart Mop will replace “sponge mops, string mops” and “even a broom” Sullivan chimes in as the mop goes to work. I just hope it doesn’t replace Vince Offer.