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Terry O'Reilly


Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Advertising Expert, Host of Under The Influence

Terry speaks to companies and organizations on the power of marketing. A very passionate (and humorous) presenter, he has a unique and insightful viewpoint on what it takes to truly connect with customers in this day and age. He talks about the power of big ideas, and how those ideas can change perceptions and behaviour. His themes are applicable to any sector, as he focusses on the thinking behind effective campaigns, out-of-the-box strategic insights, how to create a powerful identity, why brands matter (big or small), and how to cut through the data smog with ideas that are impossible to ignore.

Keynote Speeches

The Power of a Brand

This presentation explains why creating and protecting a brand is so vitally important, whether your organization (or industry) is big or small.

One of the most critical aspects of marketing is to differentiate your product or industry – 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.
  • How smart branding can elevate an entire industry.

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.


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.


Customer Service IS Marketing 

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.


The Power of Emotion in Marketing

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.

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.

Audience reviews:

  • Terry kept the audience riveted with his remarkable storytelling ability. The feedback from his conference session was that his speaking style and his visual presentation were punchy and impactful. The power of his speaking style is in his ability to draw the listeners in so his experiences become personal for them, too. He is always a popular draw, which is why we have had him speak at our conference more than once.

    - Colleges Ontario
  • It truly was a perfect message both professionally scripted and beautifully directed. You knocked it out of the park.

    - Managing Director, Senior Vice President, BMO Nesbitt Burns
  • Terry was fantastic...I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about his ability to infuse humour into a powerful message and really tap into what we in the agriculture industry can do to tell our story. He was a great pick for our audience.

    - CropLife Canada
  • 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.

    - President, Blake Jarrett & Company
  • 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!

    - President & CEO, Everlink Payment Services Inc.

Speaker Biography

While advertising and marketing do heave under reams of research, Terry O’Reilly has always believed that, at the end of the day, it still comes down to a blank page and an idea. That’s why persuasion is an art.

In demand as a keynote speaker, Terry talks about key marketing issues all companies and organizations face – from the critical need to embed emotion in marketing, to why customer service = profit, to how to change a negative perception, to why smart marketers don’t outspend their competitors – they outsmart them. Terry O’Reilly’s radio show, his keynote talks, and his books are dedicated to breaking down the art of persuasion, by looking back and gazing forward. 

A very passionate (and humorous) presenter, he has a unique and insightful viewpoint on what it takes to truly connect with customers in this day and age. He talks about the power of big ideas and how those ideas can change perceptions and behaviour. His themes are applicable to any sector, as he focusses on the thinking behind effective campaigns, out-of-the-box strategic insights, how to create a powerful identity, why brands matter (big or small) and how to cut through the data smog with ideas that are impossible to ignore.

When he’s not creating advertising, he’s talking about it as the host of the award-winning CBC Radio One/Sirius Satellite/WBEZ Chicago radio show, Under The Influence, which is the follow-up to the hit series, The Age of Persuasion.

Terry is a 30+ year adman who takes you on a personal tour through the hallways, boardrooms and recording studios of the advertising industry. He discusses the bigger issues of marketing and how it affects the public. He also discusses the nuances and small, but vital, aspects of marketing that only insiders know. 

But most of all, Terry connects the dots when it comes to pop culture, human nature and the numerous gales and undertows that effect communication. Sprinkled, of course, with the humour required to deal with it all.

Terry began his career as Copy Chief for FM108 Radio in Burlington, Ontario, where he discovered that with meticulous planning and attention to detail, you can still fall flat on your face. With that learning, he went on to become an award-winning copywriter for Toronto advertising agencies Campbell-Ewald, Doyle Dane Bernbach and Chiat/Day. He created campaigns for many of the top brands in the country, including Labatt, Molson, Pepsi USA, Goodyear Tires, Tim Hortons, Volkswagen, Nissan and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In 1990, Terry co-founded Pirate Radio & Television. A creative audio production company producing scripts, sound and music for radio and television commercials, Pirate grew to a staff of 50 with 8 recording studios in Toronto and New York City.

Terry has won a few hundred national and international awards for his writing and directing, and has worked with such notable actors as Alec Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, Kiefer Sutherland, Bob Newhart, Martin Short and Drew Carey. He even managed to create an advertising campaign for a group of nuns. (Good story there).

He co-wrote a best-selling book called The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture, published in Canada by Knopf, and in the U.S. by Counterpoint Press in Berkeley.  He’s also written This I Know: Marketing Lessons From Under The Influence, published in Canada, the U.S. and China.  And his latest book, My Best Mistake, tells remarkable stories about people who made catastrophic career mistakes – and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to them.

He served on the inaugural Radio Jury at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2005, and was named chairman of the following award show juries:

The Marketing Awards (Co-Chair) Canada
The International Clio Awards in Miami
The London International Advertising Awards

 The New York Radio Festivals awarded his radio show the Grand Prize as Best Radio Program in 2011 and again in 2012, and iTunes chose it as “Best New Podcast of 2011” and one of the Best Podcasts of 2015.

Terry has been given the following career awards:

Lifetime Achievement Award – American Marketing Association
Lifetime Achievement Award – Advertising & Design Club of Canada
Lifetime Achievement Award – Television Advertising Bureau
Inducted into Canada’s Marketing, Advertising, PR and Communications Hall of Fame

Honorary Degrees have been bestowed on Terry from these great institutions:

McMaster University – Honorary Doctorate of Laws
Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning – Bachelor Degree in Applied Studies
St. Mary’s University – Honorary Doctor of Civil Law

He has also been honoured by Ryerson University with the following:

Inaugural inductee to RTA School of Media Hall of Fame
Alumni Achievement Awards 2015

He has a wonderful wife and three lovely daughters. Who like some of his work.