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23 things I'd Like to Change About Advertising

Broadcast Day: March 1, 2008

This week, on The Age of Persuasion, Terry O'Reilly shares 23- 'count 'em- things he'd like to change about advertising. Maybe his new shoes are too tight. Or he needs a little more fibre in his diet. Perhaps a switch to decaf would do the trick. Whatever the reason, Terry shares a few long-harboured gripes about advertising, from telemarketers, to purveyors of junk mail, to hard-sell screamers, to anyone who's ever inflicted a customer with the recorded words: "your call is important to us".

On the program, we mentioned a website that explains how one can stop Canada Post from delivering unaddressed junk mail. Here's the link: http://www.reddotcampaign.ca/
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Previous Comments (20)

This man has a voice I enjoy listening to. He's articulate, calm and never says "ah" in between words or phrases. He's done his homework. I was searching the internet as the piece was moving along finding the logos he was talking about. I really got up close and personal with each logo and put a story to them.

Thanks for the great learning experience, in the age of persuasion.


ted, February 29, 2008 9:00 PM

My wife and loved your observations and totally agree with your perspective. Would only marketers and their clients listen to and abide by these guidelines.

I'd add one more "what I'd change if I could" to your list: when advertisements offer free this and free that if you become a new customer. What ever happened to rewarding those who are loyal to your brand with equal or better freebies?

And oh yah, the cost of getting a new customer is several times more expensive than keeping customers, and keeping them happy.

Great show! Thanks.

Paul A. Buchanan, March 1, 2008 1:03 PM

I'm a regular listener to your show and always find it interesting. Today you listed everything that annoys me about advertising. Thankyou thankyou thankyou. love your show.

Sonia Tunstead, March 1, 2008 1:06 PM

Great list, Terry! I counted 24 things you'd like to change, but you got going kind of fast there at the end, so maybe I lost track.

I have two things to add to your list: first, the self-aggrandizing re-naming of events: The BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships, which always makes me wonder if we will end up with multiple sets of champions sponsored by BMO, HomeSense, etc. The Canadian Figure Skating Championships brought to you by BMO was fine.

Second, ads that make faulty comparisons. Perhaps these admakers really believe that they're telling us, but I doubt it. Two examples: the old Catelli pasta ad where they tell you that pasta is low in calories and high in food energy. And the Brita ad that suggests that fresh tap water is equivalent to water that has been used to flush a toilet. In the second case, at least, the public gave them a blast.

I always try to catch the show. Thanks for making it available on line, and I'm looking forward to a podcast!

Leigh Thorpe

Leigh Thorpe, March 1, 2008 1:46 PM

can I get a podcast of this particular show?

cam campbell, March 2, 2008 1:23 AM

23 things you'd like to change - I love it, I love it, I love it!! You guessed it - I'm no fan of advertising.

I know your viewing window is "how advertisers shoot themselves in the foot."

So maybe my suggested 24th ad-thing I'd like to change doesn't quite fit ... But I'm going to leave it with you anyway. And it is this.

I hate roadside advertising. As if we drivers don't have enough to contend with, advertisers put up distractions in every conceivable place. The worst one here in Edmonton is a bazzillion watt light board advertising a hotel to drivers departing the city (right, doesn't make sense to me either!). The board outshines EVERYTHING in it's environment, including the car lots. And at night, the pulsing (yes, it does that too) voltage is enough to cause traffic accidents.

I've often wondered how many traffic incidents / accidents are the consequence of a driver distracted by some advertiser assaulting the roadway with his needless message.

Keep up your good work!

MBoschma, March 4, 2008 12:06 PM

Your show yesterday (March 1st) was great, as always. However, it is not the CRTC that has exempted charities, political parties, newspapers... (and the list goes on) from the national do not call list, but Parliament through the Telecom Act.
Thanks, Regan Morris

Regan Morris, March 5, 2008 9:46 AM

I have worked in the wonderful world of advertising for over two decades and have the greatest respect for clever, thought provoking campaigns. I agree 100% with the 23 things that should be changed - and would add a 24th - complacent apathetic audiences that accept the insults being sent their way and do nothing about it.
Susan Ellis
Pembroke, ON

Susan Ellis, March 5, 2008 3:52 PM

Terry – I just had a chance to listen to your latest edition of your fabulous show. Now that it is available as a stream I don't have to plan my Saturday activities around your don't miss show – thanks!

I am a professional designer – yep I'm one of those guys creating the colourful hit you over the head ads (sorry, but a guy has to pay the rent). But my welfare aside, I absolutely agree with you that there is WAY TOO MUCH imagery and brands shoved in front of my eyes, resonating through my ears, and now everywhere where it can be fashioned where it used to be taboo. What is next? Condom ads inside confessional booths? … hmm, maybe a bad example, but you get my drift.

And, my personal pet peeve is that when I go out to my favourite sports bar to have some beer and wings, I find it a little too much that I have a video starring me in my face as I relieve myself at the urinal. A little too much in your face for me.

And… and… and…… enough already with the constant insulting of my intelligence. I don't know what I like, but I know what is good – unfortunately there is so much bad is out there trying to sell me unwanted products everywhere!

Thank you for your great shows and enlightening messages. cheers!


Paul Heaslip, March 6, 2008 8:18 AM

Having just listened to "23 Things..." I would like to make a point, one which has been made for other media in this program before. It's about Canada Post's "diligent" effort to inform postal "customers" that they can supress unaddressed junk mail by filing that obscure request to the almost secret office in Ellesmere Island, in which it was noted that Canada Post recieves umpty-ump million dollars a year by taking and delivering said mail. The conclusion, that Canada Post is "putting their customers second" is misidentifying those customers. After all, all one needs to do is follow the money. The customers, here, are the mailers, not the recipients, and as such, in this area, anyway, Canada Post's business model is similar to advertiser-supported broadcast media, where the product is the viewer/listener/recipient, and the entity being served it is the advertiser/mailer. Which is not to say that the recipient isn't being abused, just the same.

Bob Haberkost, March 8, 2008 10:27 AM

Great show. I enjoy listening to your well thought out points. There are other points I would add to your list: 1) Cable companies with a virtual monopoly in the sector in which one happens to reside collecting a fee to watch television that is already about 30% commercials (the mute button is the most used on my remote), 2) Phone companies who charge a service fee to block unwanted calls to your phone- a good portion of which come from phone companies, 3) Companies (who wait until they have finally lost your business through poor service - pointedly, phone companies) that phone you repeatedly to make special offers to get your business back. They should make these offers available to you to prevent the loss of your business in the first place.

Chris Noonan, March 15, 2008 3:41 PM

I totally agree with your list of adverising pet peeves; if only there were advertisers who folllowed on your recommendations.

I love this show!

Ross Brown, March 19, 2008 10:47 AM

Please consider making this a podcast. I love this show but can't always tune in.

Barb Willner, March 22, 2008 1:14 PM

I have always thoroughly enjoyed your show.

Thanks for the podcast.... I can catch up on past shows & listen again...

I have to agree with all the above sentiments. Please treat us customers with a higher degree of intelligence! LOVE your suggestions about movies - someone start a petition...we will sign it!

M Thomas, March 24, 2008 4:48 PM

My favourite CBC show. Keep it up, please.

Chris Sims, March 27, 2008 12:01 AM

Wow - love the additions to the "23" list!

Chris: Couldn't agree more with your point about companies that offer incentives to people who are fed up with them, instead of offering incentives to existing customers. Or companies who offer low rates to new customers, and none at all to existing ones.

MBoshma: Good point. Here in Toronto, on the Gardner Expressway, there are some huge digital electronic billboards that show film and full TV commercials, and bits from TV shows. That can't be safe for drivers. Traditionally, billboards are created to work in 7 words or less - meaning you can grasp them in a quick glance. But these new 5000 watt boards with 30 second commercials in blazing technicolour tempts you to take your eyes off the road for 5 - 10 seconds at a time. And there are several boards like that on that same stretch of expressway. Yikes.

And as Susan says above, remember to give business to the advertisers that treat you with intelligence and humour, and ignore the ones who create mind-numbing commercials that annoy. Patronizing advertisers who create terrible ads only means they will create more annoying campaigns. They think it's working.

Terry O'Reilly, March 28, 2008 12:37 AM

Not that you haven't heard this already but let's get that pod cast thing happening ... please.

James Hare, March 29, 2008 5:22 PM

I once saw advertising on a loonie. It was a small white disc with a logo and was glued very firmly to the centre of the coin.

Susan Wells, April 19, 2008 10:07 AM

Great show! I have only been listening to CBC 1 for a few months and only discovered this show last night at work.

I totally agree with Chris Noonan's comments above, it is very gratifying to know others have the exact same thoughts.

I'm looking forward to listening to all the shows as time allows, however that annoying background sound is like a Japanese water torture. Can one purchase a program or otherwise enjoy any of these programs without that noise?

Love the show ... thanks!

Paul Seabrook, January 9, 2009 10:23 AM

Just wanted to say how much I enjoy the show. It is unfortunate that they are not available in Podcasts... but hey I just listen to it at work.

I hope my employeer is not reading this.

Wayne Taylor, February 11, 2009 8:38 PM
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