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Season 3: "Nasty is the New Nice"

Broadcast Date: July 4, 2009
Original Broadcast dates: Monday 19 January 2009, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Is it just us, or has the tone of advertising gotten colder, nastier, more rude? This week Terry O'Reilly shows how the tone of advertising is taking on a new meanness. The humour of some campaigns is taking on a decidedly sharp edge. Broadcast ads are becoming more heavily laden with violence and bodily functions. Ad copy is developing a case of potty-mouth. We'll trace some of the sources of this trend, and explain why the earnest, innocent ad copy of the 50's just won't cut it today.

Listen to this episode as streaming audio (runs 27:30)


Previous Comments (22)

Nothing special

mark riesling, January 18, 2009 3:08 PM

Don't appreciate the "rude" radio sound of "porn"....it's not great when it comes across the airwaves and i'm listening to it from my desk at work.....can you be more "selective" with what you allow over the airways ??
Not funny...caused me to completely dump that program

Tacky, real tacky of you

mary, January 19, 2009 10:50 AM

I've been listening to this series from the beginning, whenever I can, and it is very clever, informative, fun, perceptive, etc. etc.


Irwin block, January 19, 2009 11:57 AM

This is one of the most creative, most informative and most intelligent shows on the air waves. It's about so much more than just marketing - it's an exceptional social commentary.

t.s., January 19, 2009 12:17 PM

I really appreciate this series. The topic for today is important. I have been increasingly disturbed by the turn in advertising on TV (I don't listen to AM radio so can't comment on that). Advertisers seem to be encourageing us to do offensive things such as in the Peak Freen cookie ads. I won't buy those products any more. Why is a woman exposing herself to a male letter carrier any more acceptable, or funny, than sexual harrassment or assault on a woman or child by a man? This is not a question of political correctness. As a minister I have counselled a lot of people who were traumatized by such behaviour. Just as unacceptable is are the lies that are supposed to be funny, the illegal behaviour and the unbelievable rudness. Selling a product by using behaviour that "breaks out of the mold" is not problematic and can be really funny. I enjoy humour in ads (like the MacDonald's ad showing the two sleep deprived new Dads), but advertisers need to be careful about what they are selling - is it the product or the behaviour. And since when is menstrual blood blue? Ads for personal hygiene products are not comfortable ads but blue for crying out loud? If the advertisers are afraid of red, try dark brown. At least it would be more accurate. Or better yet, get creative and play with the idea. I guess that has been tried with the really dumb mother nature giving a gift ads. Well, its better than "the curse".

Leslie-Elizabeth King, January 19, 2009 3:22 PM

Mary? Did you read the write up for this episode? May have given you an indication of what subject matter would be.

Shawn, January 20, 2009 7:34 AM

Congrats on another shot.
This show has the fizz of alka seltzer, the impact of a 70's volkswagon commercial and the lingering well being of feeling included in the whole human experience. Proof that Public radio is alive and well. You can send me a cheque for this post Terry(J). Looking forward to catching more AOE.

michael copps, January 21, 2009 6:23 PM

AS usual, it's your take, perspective and intelligent presentation that keep me listening.
Excellent work!!
And FINALLY...!!! Podcast format.
My fellow commuters love it!!
Thank you !!

George, January 22, 2009 12:17 AM

Another great show. It seems that they continue to get better and better. The little bit of irony with the show about how advertising gets more raunchy is that the banner above your head keeps flashing with the ubiquitous penis enlargement pills. Doesn't that make you uncomfortable? Given that the CBC refuses to advertise on its radio shows why is your web-site selling this crap? We all know that swallowing pills cannot enlarge one's body parts but there seems to be an inverse relationship between the efficacy of the medications and the volume of advertising. Please talk to the people in charge of sanity at the CBC and let them know that you are tired of having this stuff shown prominently over your head and embarrassed to be seen to be promoting it.
Otherwise, loved the show.

John Thomasson, January 27, 2009 1:24 AM

Good Show. Especially the Emily Post "Etiquette" section at the beginning... I'll admit that I too have a noisy shirt. Keep up the fantastic work.

Ivan White, January 30, 2009 4:05 PM

It just shows the 'pendulum' of attitudes in culture. You need that shock to shift the attitudes back to moderate. Awesome program.

Brent, February 2, 2009 12:54 PM

Another great show!

I like listening to the show twice, just to savour the pacing, Terry's warm voice and the background music and sounds....jazzy violin in the closing credits? How about the wall of sound from Earth Wind and Fire horn section next?

I particularly liked the Emily Post
part being guests in the listeners home and the noisy shirt....I thought the shirt might be removed....oops.....I'm back in last season's basement party with "Tequila" as the mood music.... another lapse in decorum on my part....well keep up the great work and sound engineering!

Cheers! Kath

Kathy Leko, February 5, 2009 11:00 PM

The best program on radio! I have enjoyed CBC for 70

james Patchell, February 9, 2009 6:37 PM

First, John Thomasson - I didn't notice that there are ads for penis enlargement hovering over my head on this page. Hmmm, I think that's karma for being in the ad biz for so long.

I can see from the above comments that we offended a few folks with this show. But as Shawn said, the title of this episode is a clue to the content.

And lastly, to James Patchell - that is one of the highest compliments I think we've ever had.

Thank you.


Terry O'Reilly, March 7, 2009 5:30 PM


You shouldn't be listening to the radio at work, you should be working.
Another example of why we are not as productive as so many other first world countries...

darren, March 14, 2009 7:56 PM


My Students work harder when they're listening to what they wat to listen to. I think Mary has a point about the Awkwrdness about what comes out of the radio. However, the vastness and complexity of Ads wether on terry's Show or elsewhere could have just as easily made her uncomfortable while at her workstation.
We can't solve everyone's "issues" ....

I liked the Episode. It was a bit less stimulating than all the others i've heard of ( series 1 and 2 ) ....
I miss the gal at the end though... i dunno who the new guy is..... But i can understand staffing cuts :(
I don't have to like it - But I accept it

Looking forward to the rest !

Josh, March 21, 2009 10:15 AM

o oh oh ,mary mary ,you mary only people like you dont progress
mary mary mary
(by: mary | January 19, 2009 10:50 AM ) jus

mjm , April 7, 2009 3:44 PM

Love this show. Makes me think deeper into this subject. Well done.

Jim Quirk, May 26, 2009 9:09 PM

hey, mark reisling? Are you crazy? nothing special? this is one of THE BEST programs on CBC. Come on.

Yeah, this is a really great program!

sara , June 10, 2009 5:08 PM

Man, those Apple commercials really irritate me. They have no truth in them what-so-ever, and only appeal to people's desire to be seen as "cool". Bah! (stomps away)

Dillon, July 13, 2009 3:49 PM

Leslie-Elizabeth King wrote "Why is a woman exposing herself to a male letter carrier any more acceptable, or funny, than sexual harrassment or assault on a woman or child by a man?"

I agree 100% with you. I was appalled by that commercial the first time I saw it. What if it was a man flashing a woman postal carrier?

Another ad that I take exception to is the Ikea ad where the lady runs from the store with her purchases because she thinks the clerk made a mistake. That's a real nice suggestion. If a minimum wage clerk makes a mistake, you take advantage of it and run like a thief. Pretty sad commentary on society I think.

Kudos to Terry O'Reilly. This is a great show.

Freddy Rose, July 14, 2009 10:46 AM

I agree with Freddy and Sara.

After having stumbled onto 'Age of Persuasion' last year by accident, I concur that what we have here is DEFINITELY something special.

Always interesting, at times fascinating, I appreciate being given the chance after-the-fact to understand exactly how the ad gurus have used 'persuasion' to shape my view of things over the decades.

Should be required listening in schools!


Larry Roberts, August 2, 2009 3:51 PM
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