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Under the Influence from CBC Radio

CBC Podcasts & Radio On-Demand

Under the Influence gives listeners a rare backstage pass into the hallways, boardrooms and recording studios of the ad industry. Join host and adman Terry O’Reilly for fascinating (and humorous) stories that connect the dots between pop culture, marketing and human nature.

Under the Influence gives listeners a rare backstage pass into the hallways, boardrooms and recording studios of the ad industry. Join host and adman Terry O’Reilly for fascinating (and humorous) stories that connect the dots between pop culture, marketing and human nature.


Canada, ON


Under the Influence gives listeners a rare backstage pass into the hallways, boardrooms and recording studios of the ad industry. Join host and adman Terry O’Reilly for fascinating (and humorous) stories that connect the dots between pop culture, marketing and human nature.






Get more Under The Influence

Get more Under The Influence

S10E03 - You're Soaking In It: Female Brand Icons

This week, we learn about famous Female Brand Icons. In a marketing world full of Mr. Cleans, Ronald McDonalds and Mr. Whipples, there are female brand characters that were just as successful - and some even lasted longer. Join us as we draw a direct line from Josephine the Plumber and Madge the Manicurist to Flo from Progressive.


S10E02 - Switch-Pitchers: When Spokespeople Change Brands

This week, we explore what happens when an established spokesperson switches brands. We’ll tell the story of how the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy ended up pitching Sprint, how “The Most Interesting Man in the World” went from Dos Equis to tequila and how a spokesperson for a hamburger chain got fired when she pitched spaghetti sauce.


S10E01 - The Times They Are A-Changin': Brands Crushed By Zeitgeist

Welcome to Season 10. It's good to be back. This week, we explore how this new era of racial reckoning is affecting the world of marketing. Several of the leading brands have their roots in racial stereotypes, like Aunt Jemima - which took its imagery from the slave era. Some brands, like Eskimo Pies, have announced they are now re-naming their products and acknowledging their old names were offensive to Indigenous people. We'll also look at sports teams and their long history of controversy...


We're back January 7th

We’ve got a fun 2021 season planned for you. Here’s a sneak peek at what's in store...


S9E26 - Ask Terry 2020

This week it’s our final episode of the 2020 season, where we answer listener questions sent to us through social media. Like - why the most popular Super Bowl commercial chose to replace their lead actor, why Gatorade’s famous "Be Like Mike" campaign called Michael Jordan “Mike” when no one ever called him that before and we’ll answer the age-old question - why are there so many bad ads? Thanks for tuning in, folks. It's been a fun season. We'll see you next year.


S9E25 - You Must Remember This: The Mandela Effect

This week we’re talking about the Mandela Effect. It is defined as “collective false memory.” That means many of us remember things incorrectly and we all remember them incorrectly the same way. From famous movie lines to song lyrics to details of traumatic events and even to famous commercials, we all think our memories are time-stamped videos of our lives. But they are not.


S9E24 - Branding A Disease

This week, we explore the branding of diseases. Over the course of history, diseases have been named after people and countries with devastating effects. Names have stigmatized entire regions, decimated industries and have even caused diplomatic crises. And countries have weaponized diseases for political purposes. As with all branding, words matter.


S9E23 - Bookmarks 2020

This week it’s our annual Bookmarks episode, where we tell fascinating stories from our research that didn't make it into the regular season. We’ll talk about a book that maintains if you build a better mousetrap, the world will NOT beat a path to your door. And we’ll tell a story from a biography of Bruce Lee that proves sometimes the only way to sell a product is to increase its price. Throw on your reading glasses and join us for Bookmarks 2020.


S9E21 - Fix It Again, Tony: Brand Nicknames

Some people call Under The Influence "UTI" for short. It’s not a good nickname. But some brand nicknames are positive and extremely valuable - like "Coke" and "Chevy." Others like “Whole Paycheck” don’t make Whole Foods happy. Join us this week as we explore the implications of Brand Nicknames.


S9E20 - Setting The Table: Best Opening Stories

Every episode of Under The Influence begins with an opening story. And after more than 300 episodes, we’ve told over 300 opening stories. This week, we look back at the ones that generated the most listener feedback - from a story about a one-armed martial artist to the unorthodox ways lovers communicated in the Victorian era to the story of the greatest racehorse of all time.


S9E19 - Flip, Flop or Fly: The World of Test Markets

80-90% of new product launches fail. So to lower the risk, companies do trial runs. This week, we explore Test Markets - where companies launch new products in small towns to see if shoppers pay attention. We’ll tell the stories of successful product launches as well as a few notable product disasters.


S9E18 - Talk Ain’t Cheap: How Conversations Impact Business

This week, we explore how business can be won or lost with spontaneous off-hand remarks. Not all advertising business is conducted in a boardroom or in commercials. Sometimes somebody says something in an elevator, or in a speech or in a doorway that leads to winning an account - or losing it. Talk ain’t cheap.


S9E16 - Brand Envy 2020

This week, it’s our annual Brand Envy episode, where I tell the stories behind some of the brands I admire. We’ll talk about a romance novel company that was started by a fur trader, an empire created by a cartoonist and a certain dairy product with its very own spokes-angel. Hope you’ll join us for the 2020 edition of Brand Envy.


S9E15 - Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking: Advertising Torture Tests

This week, we explore the world of Torture Tests. Torture test commercials are one of the advertising industry’s most powerful techniques - because when a product can survive a dramatic test, it can convince a lot of people to buy the product. Unless, that is, the torture test goes very wrong…


S9E14 - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down: The New World of Online Reviews

This week, we explore the world of Online Reviews. These days you can leave a review for anything - from a cup of coffee to your dentist. 90% of us read online reviews before buying a product - that’s why those reviews are so influential. Yet how do you tell fake ones from the real thing? Thumbs up or thumbs down, welcome to the world of online reviews.


S9E13 - Lend Us Your Ears: The Intimate Art of ASMR Marketing

This week, we explore the quiet world of ASMR marketing. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s a new form of marketing that creates a calming feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation. Marketers create that experience using sound effects and whispers. Everything from beer brands to fast food restaurants are using it - hoping that tingling sensation leads to a cash register.


S9E11 - For Better or For Worse: Wedding Marketing

Dum dum da dum. This week, we explore the lucrative world of Wedding Marketing. Weddings are big, big business. And as a result, the wedding industry is a big, big marketing category. From invitations and flowers to dresses and cakes, today's weddings are an $80 billion industry. And planning the perfect day is a lot of pressure.


S9E10 - Come Fly With Me: Airports Are Now Brands

This week, we explore how airports are now becoming brands. You may not know it, but airports compete against each other for business. That intense rivalry has led to the complete transformation of airports - they now have movie theatres, skating rinks, rooftop pools and top retail stores. These days, airports are destinations unto themselves.


S9E09 - Search Parties: The Relentless Hunt For New Customers

This week, we explore the surprising ideas companies use to attract new customers. Like “Finger Lickin’ Good” nail polish from KFC. Or NASCAR’s partnership with Harlequin romance novels. The search for new customers is endless. And the resulting marketing is endlessly fascinating.