Under The Influencewith Terry O'Reilly

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The day Gordon Lightfoot died, then came back to life

Why Gordon Lightfoot was surprised to hear he had died on his car radio one day, how the voices in his head helped Brian Wilson make music, and other rock history stories.

How a pants-free Tom Cruise rescued Ray-Ban

Back in the early ‘80s, Ray-Ban sales took a dive. The brand needed a life raft. And one came…in the form of a pants-free Tom Cruise.

Famous ads you didn't know became movies or sitcoms

Once in a blue moon, commercials make the unlikely leap…to Hollywood. Some become big hit movies, others inspired popular songs. One even became a TV series that was voted one of the worst sitcoms of all time. But that’s what can happen when an ad hitchhikes to Hollywood.

Why Southwest held up an entire flight to change one man's life

Customer service is marketing. And companies that add smart, little touches make all the difference. Like grocery stores that magnify the small type on vitamin bottles, hardware stores that give you maps of their aisles and airlines that delay a plane full of people to get one man to his family.

The three-word jingle that made one company billions of dollars

Jingles had a great run until the late ‘80s, then songs overtook them. But a few big jingles have beaten the trend in recent years. One in particular has even made one company ten figures.

How a franchisee gone rogue inspired the Big Mac Song

So many brands were built on the backs of jingles. From the Big Mac, to Smarties, to Wheaties cereal. Successful jingles stay lodged in our minds forever. Once you hear them, learn the melody and start singing the lyrics, you become the advertiser.

Three products you didn't know were named after their inventors

Did you know there was a man named Nacho? What about a Mrs. Granny Smith? Or how about a Mr. Leotard? Some products are so cemented in our minds we forget their names once belonged to real people.

Products you own that started off as useless junk

How Vaseline, rubber bands, IKEA furniture and other everyday products started out life completely worthless.

Celebrities in advertising: Powerful tool or expensive problem

How Alan Arkin defied all advertising norms, why Ivory Snow had its snow-white image tarnished by a celebrity and how advertising gave Spike Lee his big break.

Kentucky Fried rats, exploding kids & other urban brand myths

Urban brand myths like the Kentucky Fried rat, the failed Chevy Nova and the case of the exploding kid live on as assumed facts. But many of the myths you’ve heard and maybe even passed along are actually untrue.

Mail order monkeys & other crazy comic book ads

How a feral squirrel-monkey attacked its new owner, why a submarine disintegrated on the front lawn, how X-Ray specs caused nothing but confusion - and other crazy comic book advertising stories.

How A Wardrobe Change Transformed Steve Martin's Career

Steve Martin was the biggest concert comedian in show business, but he had one major problem.

How the Super Bowl saved the avocado

Avocados started out life with a very unappetizing name. But thanks to some clever marketing and Super Bowl Sunday, the seeded fruit found rebirth.

Why People Are Finding Underwear In Their Mailboxes

Did you know you could have underwear sent to your door every month? How about joining the Salami of the Month club? Or maybe your cat needs a regular toy top-up. You can subscribe to just about anything these days - and some of the items may surprise you.

How The A&W Root Bear Died Then Came Back to Life

Clients hated the idea, research failed and focus groups booed. Yet, these marketing campaigns went on to become huge successes.

I See A Little Silhouetto Of A Brand: How Old School Products Survive

This week, we analyze how old school products survive in the 21st century. Many brands can’t keep up with the digital age, but others have found a way to succeed – some doing even better business today. We’ll look at how one company makes money by retiring its products, why another partnered up with its biggest competitors to stay relevant and how an entire profession saved itself by not going digital. From Crayola to Velveeta, it all comes down to smart marketing.
under the influence

Put It Between Your Knees and Squeeze: Marketing A Fad

Kicking off our 2018 season, we explore how some of the craziest fads are marketed. We'll look at how one student's school project changed the way we sleep, why a single toy made Tyco the subject of bomb threats and how a popular piece of jewellery was inspired...by doctors. From the Thighmaster to the Pet Rock, we'll break down what makes fads so absolutely irresistible. Hope you’ll join us.

Summer Series - The Most Interesting Adman in the World: The Story of Albert Lasker

This week, we tell the story of the most interesting adman in the world - Albert Lasker. Lasker had a hand in influencing professional baseball, Planned Parenthood, North American breakfast and not one, but two presidential elections. And he just happened to change the world of advertising in the process.

Summer Series - Grab Your Wallet: When Brands Go Political

This week, we explore how brands are becoming political for the first time in history. We’ll look at what happens when major retailers decide to “Dump Trump”, the controversial Super Bowl ad that challenged an immigration policy and crashed the Internet and how even Pepsi could drop the political ball. Years ago, most advertisers would have never dreamed of offending anyone with a pulse and a wallet. But all that is changing.

Summer Series - Guys and Dolls: Gender Marketing, Part II

This week, it’s part two of our Gender Marketing show. In this episode, we’ll look at how companies that have historically marketed to one gender switch gears to target another. We’ll analyze how Harley Davidson got women on two wheels, why a 13-year-old girl convinced Hasbro to make an Easy Bake Oven for boys and how Barbie targeted…dads. By and large, most products are gender-neutral. It's just the marketing that's not.

Summer Series - Guys and Dolls: Gender Marketing

This week, we delve into the controversial world of Gender Marketing. How did it all start? Why are aisles and products separated by gender? Why do some companies charge women more than men for identical items? Marketing different products to different genders leads to profit but also to big consequences. It’s not a black-and-white issue, but it’s definitely pink and blue…

Summer Series - Selling The Dream: Real Estate Advertising

This week, we look at the fine art of selling the dream. The world of Real Estate Marketing has its own rules, its own techniques and its own unique breed of salespeople. We'll tell the story of how the word "Realtor" was reluctantly blessed by Merriam-Webster, why so many real estate agents use photos of themselves as a marketing tactic and what happens when the real estate business tries enticing buyers using...humour. It's a form of marketing that touches all of us and it usually involves the biggest purchase of our lives.

Summer Series - The Wizarding World of Influencer Marketing

This week, we peek into the emerging world of influencer marketing. Today, the most popular social media Influencers aren't celebrities, they're regular people. Bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTube stars and Snapchatters have amassed millions of followers, promoting products using only the trust of their fans as currency. We'll look at a single YouTube review that shot Patti Labelle to the top of the baking industry, why J.K. Rowling only needed seven people to promote the biggest movie attraction of the year and exactly what happens when influencers break the trust of their loyal followers. It all comes down to integrity and transparency.

Summer Series - The Frankenstein Factor: Inventors Who Regret Their Inventions

This week, we analyze inventors who later came to regret their inventions. Sometimes it's because the product ended up being harmful. Other times it's because of the way their product was used. And in most cases, the creators simply lost control of their creations. We'll look at why the inventor of the K-Cup doesn't own a Keurig machine, why the creator of Mother's Day later tried to have it rescinded and how the Wright Brothers lost control of the airplane. It's one of the most unwieldy aspects of marketing - you create a product, you inform the public, you put it into the marketplace, and it's out of your hands.

Summer Series - What A Difference A Difference Makes: Standing Out In The Marketplace

This week, we look at brands that separate themselves from the herd. In the world of marketing, standing out is the most critical thing a company can do. Having a distinct personality gives shoppers a reason to remember a brand and a reason to buy. We'll analyze a wrestler who used a delicate flower to intimidate his opponents, a single eyepatch that gave one company a $28M bump in sales and a motorcycle brand that succeeded by taking the fun out of the ride.