Terry O’Reilly

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

Host of Under the Influence on CBC Radio | Author of This I Know and The Age of Persuasion

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Terry O’Reilly | Host of Under the Influence on CBC Radio | Author of This I Know and The Age of Persuasion

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. In talks, and in his new book This I Know, 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 and Tennant are exceptionally talented writers ... The Age of Persuasion is an easy-to-read and often subversive primer on marketing, advertising and branding.”

The Globe and Mail

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 new book, This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence, is a distillation of decades of experience exploring the art of marketing, breaking down the basics of marketing philosophy for both fresh start-ups and veteran organizations. And his previous 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 IS Marketing How Excellent Service Will Provide a Competitive Advantage

Customer Service = Profit. So many companies either don’t understand this rule, or need help implementing it. Great companies know it’s not enough to have customers leave satisfied – the key is to have them leave happy. That is a step beyond service. Superb customer service creates intense customer loyalty and fuels referrals. 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 presentation includes inspiring stories from around the world, and examples of incredible and unexpected customer service ideas that your audience can implement immediately.

Outsmart the Competition Don’t Outspend Them, Outsmart Them

Budget should never get in the way of great marketing. In a world where most advertisers don’t have huge budgets to trounce the competition, where small advertisers are up against deeper pockets, and where not–for–profit communicators struggle to make an impact, there is a way to gain remarkable returns.


This presentation explains how to outsmart the competition, not outspend them. All it takes is a different mindset and a different kind of creativity. This talk includes:

  • • How to see the world through fresh eyes, and recognize the opportunities others miss.
  • • How some of the smartest ideas cost the least amount of money.
  • • How inexpensive ideas can make the biggest impact on customers.
  • • Why affordable ideas can attract a lot of press.
  • • How small budgets can inspire great creativity.
  • • How small companies and not-for-profits can attract as much attention as bigger companies.
  • • How humour, drama and surprise can make up for a small budget.

This presentation is media-rich and demonstrates amazing ideas from around the world from organizations that chose to spend creativity, not dollars.

The Power of Emotion in Marketing Why Customers Have to Feel, Not Just Understand

This presentation explains why your customers have to feel your message, not just understand it. If you want to truly connect with your customers – and potential customers – you must employ emotion in your marketing. Most communication is just flat information – aimed solely at the head. Yet we make 80% of our decisions with our heart.


This talk helps your audience understand the difference between typical information-based marketing versus the powerful impact of emotionally-charged messages. This presentation includes:

  • • The reasons why most customers ignore straight information – even when it’s vitally important to them.
  • • Where to look to uncover an emotional insight.
  • • How to use that insight to market to your greatest area of opportunity.
  • • How to aim for the heart, not the head.
  • • Why emotion creates intense customer loyalty.
  • • How to avoid the one pitfall of emotional marketing.
  • • Why emotion trumps all other communication tools.

The talk also shows remarkable examples from around the world where advertisers and not-for-profit organizations have used emotion to achieve outstanding results.

Behavioural Economics
Changing the Conversation

Changing a negative perception is one of the most challenging tasks you can assign to marketing.


Maybe the public thinks your product is old and outdated. Maybe your brand has such a troubled history that you can’t attract new business. Maybe your service is perceived to deliver an undesirable benefit, when in reality, it delivers a highly appealing one. Maybe the tourism to your province or city is dropping because of a negative perception, or maybe rumours or myths are turning potential customers off.


The advertising industry has been changing perceptions and behaviour successfully for decades. Your audience will learn how to re-frame their thinking with insights and tools they can apply directly to their business by learning:

  • • How to assess the problem and isolate the obstacle.
  • • How to use research to discover a leverage point.
  • • How to harness emotion and empathy to persuade.
  • • How to identify your greatest area of opportunity.
  • • How to use your leverage point to change a perception.
  • • How to change the conversation both externally and internally.

This presentation contains powerful examples from a variety of companies and organizations that have tackled what seemed like insurmountable problems, and turned them around just by changing the conversation.

The Power of Branding

This presentation explains why creating and protecting a brand is so vitally important, whether your company (or organization) is big or small. One of the most critical aspects of marketing is to differentiate your product – even when the category is filled with smart competitors. This talk helps your audience understand what a brand is, the enormous benefits branding can deliver, and how to carefully create a unique identity. This talk includes:

  • • How branding can differentiate your product from all competitors.
  • • How a unique brand is comprised of your philosophy, your reputation, your history and your promise.
  • • How a brand recruits your customer’s heart.
  • • Why brands attract attention.
  • • How branding can re-position a company to a younger, or completely new audience.
  • • How branding can create reservoirs of goodwill a company can draw on in difficult times.
  • • Why branding can help instill confidence in consumers for new product launches.
  • • How a strong brand can guide the wavering hand of customers in your direction during lean times.
  • • Why smart branding can create intense customer loyalty.

This talk includes powerful examples of smart branding in a media-rich presentation that demonstrates each point with some of the best branding from around the world.

Jump the Fence The Power of Counterintuitive Thinking

Most marketers think within the confines of their category. But that is an artificial boundary.


When out-of-the-box thinking is applied to strategies, marketing problems can be solved, obstacles can be blasted out of the way, and revenues can dramatically improve. All you have to do is “jump the fence.”


This talk gives the audience inspiring lessons in counterintuitive thinking, and includes:

  • • How to re-define your category and identify artificial borders.
  • • Why it is critical to go against conventional wisdom.
  • • How to look to other advertising categories for inspiration.
  • • How to look at a marketing problem with absolute fresh eyes.
  • • How and where to look for powerful strategic insights.
  • • Why counterintuitive thinking requires superb execution.
  • • How counterintuitive thinking can overcome difficult market conditions and competitors with deeper pockets.

This presentation is full of utterly remarkable stories of how organizations used intuitive thinking to achieve outstanding results. All they did was 'jump the fence' in their thinking.

Tell a Story If You Don’t Have A Story, You Don’t Have a Business

The company with the best story wins. This presentation is about the power of storytelling. The smartest, most effective marketers in the world use storytelling to persuade. We are all hard-wired to love stories, and every product and service has a compelling story to tell. This talk helps your audience understand how to build stories and gives them the tools to start using storytelling in their own businesses. This presentation includes:

  • • How storytelling can add immediate value to your product/service.
  • • How to harvest stories from your company/organization and your customers.
  • • How storytelling can communicate intangible qualities like trust, confidence and security.
  • • How stories can launch new products and maintain mature brands.
  • • How storytelling creates intense customer loyalty.
  • • Why the best storytellers are the best listeners.
  • • Why storytelling is one of the most cost-effective strategies in marketing.

This presentation also includes powerful examples of Canadian and international marketing campaigns that used storytelling in surprising and enormously effective ways.