Did you know that your version of Internet Explorer is out of date?
To get the best possible experience using our website we recommend downloading one of the browsers below.

Internet Explorer 10, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.

Skip To Content

Terry O'Reilly - of Under the Influence

When Terry was 4 years old, he was on Romper Room.

After the show one day, the director asked Terry's Mom if they could put him in a TV commercial for a local bakery. Mom said yes, Terry was walked over to another studio and the commercial was filmed.

His fate was sealed.

After studying radio and television at Ryerson 17 years later in 1981, he sent out 60 resumes to 60 advertising agencies looking for a writing job.

He got back 61 rejections letters.

Because he couldn't take 61 hints, he persisted and eventually landed an ad writing job. That agency discovered he had a knack for writing commercials that made people laugh while still persuading them to buy. In his first year alone, he won 60 national and international advertising awards for his work.

Then in 1990, Terry decided to become his own boss, and co-founded Pirate Radio & Television – an audio production company that produced scripts, sound and music for TV and radio commercials. Pirate grew to have eight recording studios in Toronto and New York.

Terry has won a few hundred national and international awards for writing and has directed such notable actors as Alec Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, Kiefer Sutherland, Bob Newhart and Martin Short.

Ask him about the advertising campaign he created for a group of nuns if you get a chance. It's a good story.

The advertising industry that initially tried to reject him 61 times eventually gave Terry three lifetime achievement awards.

One day, Terry pitched an idea to the CBC. It was to be a radio show that gave people a backstage pass into the closed world of advertising.

It was a bold idea.
Especially considering the CBC radio was advertising-free.

That was 14 years ago – and today Terry's radio show, Under The Influence, is now one of the highest-rated radio programs in Canada. The show attracts over one million listeners per week and the podcast has been downloaded over 20 million times, making it the most-downloaded Canadian podcast according to the Globe & Mail podcast study. It airs in the U.S. where the New York Radio Festival chose it as the Best Radio Show two years in a row. iTunes also chose it as one of its best podcasts.

Each week, Terry takes listeners on a unique journey to understand the advertising that swirls around them. He explores the intersection of human nature and pop culture while revealing the hidden insights behind persuasion and marketing. And he does it with a heaping helping of humour.

Terry has written two books – the latest titled: This I Know: Marketing Lessons From Under The Influence.

He has a wonderful wife and three lovely daughters.

Who like some of his work.

View More +