Terry O’Reilly

Great marketing doesn't just reflect culture; it fuels it.

Host of Under the Influence on CBC Radio

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Terry O’Reilly | Host of Under the Influence on CBC Radio

Terry O’Reilly is the familiar voice behind hit CBC radio shows O’Reilly on Advertising, The Age of Persuasion, and Under the Influence. He explores the business, the craft, and the promise of advertising. O’Reilly unravels the mysterious web behind the history of this—dare we say it—artform, the extent to which our culture is shaped by marketing, and vice versa. 

O’Reilly has won hundreds of national and international awards for his ad work, has been named in Marketing Magazine’s Power 100 List, and, in 2009, was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends. Away from the mic, O’Reilly is the co-founder of Pirate Radio & Television, in New York and Toronto, which specializes in audio production for radio and television commercials. He also hosts sold-out radio seminars, is a recipient of the Les Usherwood Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named as Radio Chair of the Clio Awards in Miami. His book, The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture, is a comprehensive, witty, and insightful look into the ever-evolving advertising industry.


O’Reilly has won a few hundred national and international awards for writing and directing. Marketing Magazine named him one of Canada’s “Most Influential” marketing people. He was chosen as the first Canadian judge for the inaugural year of Radio at the Cannes Advertising Festival in France.
He also sat as Jury Chairman at the Canadian Marketing Awards, the International Clio Awards in Miami and the London International Advertising Awards.


When he’s not creating advertising, he’s talking about it, first as the host of the award-winning CBC/Sirius/WBEZ Chicago radio series, The Age of Persuasion—with close to a million listeners a week in Canada alone. The Age of Persuasion podcast was chosen as the “Best New Podcast of 2011” by iTunes, and was awarded the Grand Prize trophy at the New York Radio Festivals two years in a row.

2012 was a big year for O’Reilly. He premiered a new radio series called Under the Influence. He co-authored the best-selling book The Age of Persuasion, published in Canada, the U.S., and China. He has been given two lifetime achievement awards, one from the Advertising & Design Club, the other from the Television Advertising Bureau of Canada, and was granted an Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree from McMaster University.   


“Terry spoke at the evening banquet of the GrowCanada conference and he was fantastic. Delegates received a copy of his book, and at the end of the night delegates not only made sure they took the book home with them, but they also wanted to get it signed for a chance to talk to Terry. His ability to infuse humour into a powerful message and really tap into how to tell our story was extremely well-received.”


“Terry, you were a massive hit and the office was a buzz after your departure. You have given us a lot of inspiration and ‘homework’ which will be of great value. Thank you for the great job done.”

Blake Jarrett & Company

“Just a short note to say how much of a pleasure it was to have you as a guest speaker at our conference last week. It truly was a perfect message both professionally scripted and beautifully directed. You knocked it out of the park.”

BMO Nesbitt Burns

“Terry recently delivered the keynote address at our annual Client Conference on “The Power of Counter-Intuitive Thinking.” The content and message of his presentation was right on target—timely, relevant, clear and applicable—with conference delegates overwhelmingly rating Terry’s session as “Outstanding!””

Everlink Payment Services Inc.

Speech Topics

Business Strategy
Customer Service How Excellent Service Will Provide a Competitive Advantage

Great companies know it’s not enough to have customers leave satisfied—the key is to have them leave happy. So many companies either don’t understand this rule, or need help implementing it. This is a step beyond service. Superb customer service creates intense customer loyalty and fuels referrals. For these reasons, this talk helps companies or organizations to:

• Create emotional connections with customers.
• Understand that people remember people—not products.
• Review all the customer touch-points in your company.
• Look for hidden opportunities to deliver memorable customer service.
• Understand how to position customer service as a competitive advantage.
• Harvest customer service stories.
• Understand how to advertise and promote those customer service stories.
• Understand why Customer Service is marketing.

This keynote presentation includes inspiring stories from around the world, and examples of incredible and unexpected customer service ideas that your audience can implement immediately.

Outsmart Competition Don’t Outspend Them, Outsmart Them

In a world where most advertisers don’t really have the budgets to trounce the competition, where small advertisers are up against bigger ones, and where not-for-profit communicators struggle to make an impact, there is a way to gain remarkable returns. It just takes a different mindset, some very clever and smart strategies, and an ability to leverage opportunities others don’t see. See amazing campaigns from around the world that outsmarted the competition, while not having to outspend them.

Why Customers Have to Feel, Not Just Understand

If you truly want to connect with your customers, if you truly want to attract potential customers, you must make them feel your message, not just understand it. Most decisions are made 20% with the brain, 80% with the heart, yet most advertising is aimed at the head. Discover how the most effective advertising uses emotion, empathy, and an ability to identify obstacles and tear them down with outstanding creativity.

Behavioural Economics
Changing Perceptions

One of the most difficult tasks marketing can undertake is to change a perception. Maybe the public thinks your product is old and stodgy. Maybe your product has such a troubled history that you can't attract new business. Maybe your service is perceived to deliver an undesirable benefit, but really delivers another highly appealing one. Maybe the tourism to your city is dropping because of a perception. There is a process to changing behaviour and perceptions, and this presentation demonstrates the ways other advertisers have tackled this difficult problem with extraordinary results.

The Power of Branding

One of the most critical aspects of marketing is to differentiate your product—even when the category is filled with smart competitors. Join Terry as he explains why branding can do this, but also deliver so much more: How it can also re-position a company to a younger, or new, audience. How it can create reservoirs of goodwill that a company can draw on in difficult times, why it can help instill confidence in consumers for new, untried products, the power it has to guide the wavering hand of customers in your direction in lean times, and best of all, why smart branding can create intense customer loyalty.

Only the Strong Surprise

A highly entertaining and insightful talk on why effective messages must constantly surprise consumers in order to break through. It’s a media–rich presentation, showing examples from around the world of advertising campaigns that harness the power of surprise. Because, in surprise, lies the opportunity to inspire, recruit, convince, persuade or change a perception.

Tell a Story The Power of Storytelling
He with the best story wins. All the top products in the world are underpinned by compelling brand stories. Stories move people, stories attract people, stories create brand loyalty. Join Terry O’Reilly as he talks about the best brand stories in the world, how they are created, how they are nurtured, how brand stories have launched new products, how they maintain mature brands, and how your customers situate themselves right in the middle of a great brand story if it’s created with them in mind.