At 163 years old, and best known as the leading U.S. producer of baking soda, Church & Dwight is not generally thought of as a flamboyant, in-your-face sort of company. Yet it has had a big hit with OxiClean, and freely attributes that cleaning product’s success to popular pitchman Billy Mays.

On Sunday, June 28, the North Harrison Street-based company paid tribute to Mays, who died suddenly in Florida that morning at the age of 50 after returning from Philadelphia, where he was filming a new OxiClean commercial. Bruce Fleming, the company’s chief marketing officer, issued a statement saying, “We are shocked and saddened by the untimely passing of Billy Mays, who served as OxiClean spokesperson for more than a decade and who deserves much of the credit for making OxiClean a household name.

“Billy was the best of the pitchman genre that he pioneered. His enthusiasm for life was infectious and he will be sorely missed by the Arm & Hammer family and all who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”

Mays began his career as a pitchman on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. While he sold many products, none is more closely associated with his cheerful, overstated sales spiel than OxiClean, the lead product in the portfolio of OrangeGlo, a Colorado-based company that Church & Dwight acquired in 2006.

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