Make the Sale, Then Go Paint Your Masterpiece

“Consumed” columnist, Rob Walker, takes on a subject today that has the power to upset, annoy and challenge people who build brands for a living.
That’s right, Billy Mays is the subject of an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Pretty highbrow territory for the master of yell-and-sell.
Walker points out that despite Mays ubiquity, he’s not for everyone.

Bob Garfield, a columnist for Advertising Age, recently argued that data-mining techniques — using information consumers volunteer on social-networking sites like Facebook to focus marketing more precisely — will replace loud and endlessly replayed commercials. In fact, he used Mays as a one-man stand-in for the kind of selling tactics being swept aside.

I bet Garfield’s assertions make Mays laugh all the way to the bank. Social networks are great for the engaged audience that’s willing to work a little and pay even more attention. But what about the masses in their recliners? For them, Billy Mays provides solutions to common household problems.
Mays’ style of selling is effective, which gives me reason to pause. I work to put something smart out there in the marketplace in hopes that it will attract an audience. Mays, on the other hand, doesn’t bother with lofty notions about building relationships and making lasting impressions. He’s got hot cakes!



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.