The Most Annoying (and Successful) Pitch-Man

Everybody who watches TV for more than 15 minutes in a week, particularly if some of that time is on Cable/Satillite networks, knows Billy Mays. He’s the guy who sells gimmicky ‘As Seen On TV’ junk like Oxi-Clean, Orange Glo, the Awesome Auger, and more by screaming at you. Personally I find his pitching style abrasive and annoying, and will avoid buying products he has pitched even more than I generally avoid ‘As Seen On TV’ junk. According to The Washington Post though, he is actually extremely successful at what he does. Mays is one of the most sought-after pitch-men in the television universe.

I really don’t get why these ‘As Seen On TV’ companies insist on annoying people—Billy Mays’s yelling to sell hundreds of products and Vince Offer’s condescending pitch for the ShamWow towels—rather than the traditional style of simply showing the product and why it’s better than the alternatives. I don’t buy from companies that don’t treat me like a rational, practical, intelligent person.

The strangest part is not that these companies resort to these pitches, since they have done it throughout the history of television. The strangest part is that it works, and people buy these products based solely on the annoying sales pitch of a paid advertiser. Invariably, independent research reveals that these products don’t work. On the rare occasion that they do work and do represent a novel solution to a problem, they quickly begin appearing in real retailers or established, trustworthy companies begin producing similar products. That’s when I start buying.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.