The Age of Persuasion

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Terry O'Reilly and Mike Tennant talk about The Age of Persuasion on Bookbits radio.

The Age of Persuasion is a Canadian radio series which aired on CBC Radio One for 107 episodes over five seasons between 2006 and 2011, and also broadcast on Chicago public radio station WBEZ. A sequel to the earlier O'Reilly on Advertising, the series is hosted by Terry O'Reilly and explores the sociological and cultural impact of advertising on modern life.

Each episode uses humour and numerous excerpts from historical radio broadcasts and commercials to make its point.

Many episodes are available in streaming MP3 format from the program's CBC website. Some are available in podcast form at the unofficial site CBC Podcasts. On December 24, 2010 the Age of Persuasion blog announced[1] that the CBC would be podcasting the show starting in January 2011.

The show's creators, Terry O'Reilly and Mike Tennant, have released a book: The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture, (Knopf Canada & Vintage Paperbacks). The book is published in the United States by Counterpoint Press.

As late as November 2011, O'Reilly had indicated that a sixth season of AoP would begin that January.[2] However, in December 2011, O'Reilly revealed that AoP would in fact be replaced at that time by a new series, Under the Influence, reflecting the shift of marketing from a "one-way conversation" to a "delicate dialogue".[3]

Episode list[edit]

Note: Starting in season 2, episodes in italics are repeat broadcasts. Links in the episode title take you to an online copy of the episode. Links in the date take you to a summary only.

Season 1[edit]

Ep # Episode Title Broadcast Date
1x01 Terry O'Reilly on media clutter and risk in election ads 2006-09-07
1x02 The Language of Persuasion 2006-09-14
1x03 Rinse and Repeat 2006-09-21
1x04 Yoots - Youth Marketing 2006-09-28
1x05 The Lesson of Clark Gable's Undershirt 2006-10-05
1x06 The Long and Short of It 2006-10-12
1x07 Breaking the Contract 2006-10-19
1x08 The Rise and Fall and Rise of Branded Entertainment 2006-10-26
1x09 The Human Face of Persuasion 2006-11-02
1x10 All the World's a Marketing Opportunity 2006-11-09
1x11 Walk 1.6 Kilometres in My Shoes 2006-11-16
1x12 Strange But True Tales of Market Research 2006-11-23
1x13 Love, Marriage and Sexual Tension 2006-11-30
1x14 Branding a Nation 2006-12-07
1x15 The Persuasive Power of Storytelling 2007-01-15
1x16 Protecting the Celebrity Brand 2007-01-25
1x17 Goin' to the Show: Super Bowl Ads 2007-02-01
1x18 A Sense of Persuasion 2007-02-08
1x19 Leaving Your Mark 2007-02-15
1x20 The YouTube Revolution

The trends in media usage by advertisers are examined, from the rise and fall of radio and television advertising, to viral videos and non-media "idea" advertising.

1x21 By Any Other Name 2007-03-08
1x22 Guerrillas in Our Midst 2007-03-29
1x23 Frontiers and Boundaries 2007-04-05
1x24 Reviving the Brand 2007-04-12
1x25 It's the Insight, Stupid! 2007-04-19
1x26 Award in Edgewise 2007-04-26
1x27 The Wall of Cynicism 2007-05-31
1x28 The Future of Persuasion 2007-06-14
1x29 Do This or Die 2007-06-21

Season 2[edit]

Ep # Broadcast # Episode Title Broadcast Date
2x01 201 There’s Never a Marques of Queensbury Around When You Need One 2008-01-12
2x02 202 The Sport of Persuasion 2008-01-19
2x03 203 Old Media, New Media, Borrowed Media, Blue Media 2008-01-26
2x04 204 Branding the News 2008-02-02
1x22 205 Guerillas in our Midst 2008-02-09
2x05 206 Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Agency Pitches 2008-02-16
1x19 207 Leaving Your Mark 2008-02-23
2x06 208 23 things I’d Like to Change About Advertising 2008-03-01
1x24 209 Reviving the Brand 2008-03-08
2x07 210 The Trouble with Big 2008-03-15
2x08 211 Royal Jelly 2008-03-22
2x09 212 Advertisers as Censors 2008-03-29
1x26 213 Award in Edgewise 2008-04-05
2x10 214 Crowd Control 2008-04-12
2x11 215 The Strategy of Persuasion

The importance of a strategy in advertising.

2x12 216 In Defence of Advertising

Terry O'Reilly defends advertising, arguing that an advertisement-free world would not be as nice as some people might think.

1x25 217 It's the Insight, Stupid!

The importance of an insight in modern persuasion.

2x13 218 Emotion

Why the best advertisers win customers through the heart, not with facts.

2x14 219 The Myth of Mass Marketing

An examination of the myth of "mass marketing" and the effectiveness of one-on-one selling.

2x15 220 Selling War

How advertising has been used (and is still being used) to recruit soldiers and create support for wars.

1x23 221 Frontiers and Boundaries

An examination of how what is acceptable in an advertising has changed over time and how this reflects the change in a society's values.

2x16 222 Advertising as the New Sugar Daddy

A short history of sponsorship in advertising.

2x17 223 Persuasion in the Niches

How (and why) the one-size-fits-all mass marketing is being replaced with marketing targeted at smaller market niches.

2x18 224 Six Remarkable Brands

Examples of six remarkable brands - including a media icon (Oprah Winfrey), a rock and roll band (The Beatles), an athlete (Muhammad Ali), a toy (Lego), a city (Las Vegas), and a large animal (polar bear).


Season 3[4][edit]

Ep # Broadcast # Episode Title Broadcast Date
3x01 301 A Taste for Blood: Direct Marketing 2009-01-05
3x02 302 Recession Marketing 2009-01-12
3x03 303 Nasty is the New Nice 2009-01-19
3x04 304 Rethink the Shark 2009-01-26
3x05 305 According to Hoyle 2009-02-02
1x09 306 The Human Face of Persuasion 2009-02-07
1x07 307 Breaking the Contract 2009-02-14
3x06 308 Commandeering Holidays 2009-02-19
3x07 309 Great Canadian Campaigns 2009-03-07
3x08 310 Repetition Repetition Repetition 2009-03-09
3x09 311 Sun Tzu and the Art of... Persuasion 2009-03-16
3x01 312 A Taste for Blood: Direct Marketing 2009-03-23
3x10 313 Selling God 2009-03-30
3x11 314 Brand Loyalty 2009-04-06
3x12 315 Big and Small 2009-04-13
3x02 316 Recession Marketing 2009-04-20
3x13 317 The Real Deal: Authenticity 2009-04-27
3x14 318 The Myths of Persuasion 2009-05-04
3x15 319 Marketing the Invisible 2009-05-11
3x07 320 Great Canadian Campaigns 2009-05-18
3x16 321 Entertainment or Nothing 2009-05-25
3x17 322 The Museum of Persuasion 2009-06-01
3x18 323 Urban Legends 2009-06-08
3x19 324 Embracing New Media 2009-06-15
3x20 325 Ask Terry (2009) 2009-06-22

Season 4[4][edit]

Ep # Broadcast # Episode Title Broadcast Date
4x01 401 Marketing the Unpleasant 2010-01-02
4x02 402 Buzz 2010-01-09
4x03 403 Pitchmen 2010-01-16
4x04 404 Heroes & Villains 2010-01-23
4x05 405 Persuasion Fail 2010-01-30
4x06 406 Slogans 2010-02-06
4x07 407 Categories 2010-02-13
4x08 408 Are People Idiots? 2010-02-20
4x09 409 Being There: Selling Experiences 2010-02-27
4x01 410 Marketing the Unpleasant 2010-03-06
4x10 411 All Things Being Equal: Parity Products 2010-03-13
4x11 412 Context 2010-03-20
4x02 413 Buzz 2010-03-27
4x12 414 Oddballs: Singular Campaigns 2010-04-03
4x13 415 Privacy 2010-04-10
4x03 416 Pitchmen 2010-04-17
4x14 417 Where Power Resides 2010-04-24
4x15 418 Profiles in (Marketing) Courage 2010-05-01
4x16 419 Negative Advertising 2010-05-08
4x17 420 Opportunism 2010-05-15
4x18 421 A Few More Remarkable Brands 2010-05-22
4x19 422 Ask Terry Some More 2010-05-29
4x20 423 Looking For the Admen in Madmen[5] 2010-06-05

Season 5[edit]

Ep # Broadcast # Episode Title Broadcast Date
5x01 501 It's Not Easy Being Green: Green Marketing 2011-01-08
5x02 502 Luxury Advertising 2011-01-15
5x03 503 Candid Commercials: Real People in Advertising 2011-01-22
5x04 504 Caution: Speed Bumps. The Magical Ingredient in Marketing 2011-01-29
5x05 505 Marketing Pioneers 2011-02-05
5x06 506 Even More Remarkable Brands 2011-02-12
4x01 507 Marketing the Unpleasant 2011-02-19
5x07 508 AOP Goes to the Movies 2011-02-26
5x08 509 The Commercials You Grew Up With 2011-02-02
5x09 510 Burn The Boats: Brands That Risked and Won 2011-03-12
4x03 511 Pitchmen 2011-03-19
5x10 512 Mad Women: The Great Women of Advertising 2011-03-26
5x11 513 Dynamic Duos: The Famous Partnerships in Advertising 2011-04-02
5x12 514 Three Foot Marketing: The Battleground In-Store 2011-04-09
4x10 515 All Things Being Equal: The Fascinating World of Parity Products 2011-04-15
5x13 516 The Happy Homemaker: How Advertising Invented the Housewife (Part One) 2011-04-22
5x14 517 The Happy Homemaker: How Advertising Invented the Housewife (Part Two) 2011-04-30
5x15 518 Genericide: When a Brand Becomes Generic 2011-05-06
4x17 519 Opportunism 2011-05-13
5x16 520 The Sound of Persuasion 2011-05-21
5x17 521 Ageism in Advertising 2011-05-28
4x06 522 Slogans 2011-06-05
5x18 523 Terry's Book Club 2011-06-11
5x19 524 Diversity in Advertising 2011-06-18
5x20 525 Ask Terry Again 2011-06-25

Opening theme[edit]

The title theme, composed by Ari Posner and Ian LeFeuvre, consists of a series of ten sound clips from ads and speeches, played over the theme music. Static is heard between each clip, giving the impression of changing between stations on a radio. The title is announced in the middle of the clips. In each episode, one clip is different, similar to the couch gag in the opening to The Simpsons.

Theme lyrics[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Read. My. Lips. / This is the CBS News / I've fallen and I can't get up! / Don't be a square / The only thing we have to fear is... / (clip) / And now, Terry O'Reilly and The Age of Persuasion / Oh, the humanity! / Chops, dices, minces / Yeeeargh! / It's that simple.

Season 2[edit]

I want chicken, I want liver / "I wanna bottle of Coca-Cola!" "Sonny..." / That's a spicy meat-a-ball! / Hey, great, a toothpaste should fight cavities / I can't believe I ate that whole... / (clip) / And now, Terry O'Reilly and The Age of Persuasion / Ho,ho,ho / Hoo-hoo! / Mamma mia! / There you go again.

Season 3[edit]

I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message / "Another cup of Maxwell House coffee, George?" "Sure, pour me a cup, Gracie!" / Hoo-wah! / "Hello, I'm a Mac," "And I'm a PC!" "Whooooo!" "Whoo!" / The only thing we have to fear is... / (clip) / And now, Terry O'Reilly and The Age of Persuasion / Bromo-Seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer... / Got milk? / Don't leave home without it / Isn't that amazing?

Season 4[edit]

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV / It's the fishing invention of the century / This is only a test / It's Patrick, he took out life insurance / I'm not only the Hair Club president, I'm also a client / The only thing we have to fear is... / (clip) / And now, Terry O'Reilly and The Age of Persuasion / Takes a licking and keeps on ticking / He likes it! Hey, Mikey! / Yes! We! Can!

Season 5[edit]

Hello, ladies / Tacos... fettuccine, linguine, martini, bikini / Wow, what's that aftershave you're wearing? / Cough suppressant as effective as codeine, but not narcotic / It'll keep your kids quiet for hours / Tonight's episode brought to you by / (clip) / And now, Terry O'Reilly and The Age of Persuasion / We are not afraid to get mavericky in there / Ha-ha-ha-haaa / Thank you for your support.

Running gags[edit]

  • In the opening theme, one sound clip is changed in each episode which, when following the previous clip, makes up a nonsense sentence. Depending on the season, the preceding clip is either Franklin D. Roosevelt's "The only thing we have to fear is..." (from his famous inauguration speech)(seasons 1, 3 & 4), a man saying, "I can't believe I ate that whole..." (from a commercial for Alka-Seltzer)(season 2), or an announcer saying "Tonight's episode brought to you by..." (season 5).
  • When Terry sets up the premise for an episode in the form of a letter from a listener, there is usually a postscript confusing Terry with retired ice hockey player Joseph James Terrence "Terry" O'Reilly, who played as a right-winger for the Boston Bruins.
  • Terry directly interacts with "Keith" (Ohman, the engineer), usually to get him to play a recording clip. On more than one occasion, Keith has been asked for a hammer, which is then used to destroy a piece of electronic equipment playing something especially irksome.
  • When it is necessary to define a phrase or concept, the definition is usually delivered by Steve Gardner, over a clip of upbeat 1950s-style educational film music.
  • After Terry O'Reilly makes a pun, he "puts a dollar in the Age of Persuasion pun jar", accompanied by the sound of change being dropped into a glass jar. Examples include Home Depot having "nailed down" its emotional hook and Beethoven being able to reject "overtures" from nobles.
  • When Terry mentions an object with potentially injurious consequences, such as a Taser or a pneumatic nail gun, a sound effect of the device in action is played, followed by a man with a low-pitched voice quietly saying, "Ow."
  • Throughout season 4, co-creator Mike Tennant appears on location in various settings, such as in the audience of a medicine show or as a shill in an auction.
  • During the end credits, the announcer makes commentary on the people mentioned, the comments invariably being linked to the episode's theme. The announcer is the same woman for all seasons except Season 3, when she was replaced by a man (Mike Tennant) who began the credits by saying, "Say, folks..."

End Credits[edit]

(Seasons 1-4)

  • Created and written by Terry O'Reilly and Mike Tennant
  • Engineer, Keith Ohman
  • Title music by Ari Posner and Ian Lefeuvre
  • The Age of Persuasion is produced for CBC Radio by Pirate Radio & Television, Toronto

(Season 5)

  • Written by Terry O'Reilly
  • Engineer, Keith Ohman
  • Title music by Ari Posner and Ian Lefeuvre
  • Created by Terry O'Reilly and Mike Tennant
  • The Age of Persuasion is produced by Pirate Toronto & New York


New York Festivals, World's Best Radio Programs & Promotions

AOP Goes to the Movies

  • Business/Consumer Issues: Gold
  • Best Writing: Silver

Speed Bumps

  • Best Writing: Silver
  • Business/Consumer Issues: Bronze

Grand Award: AOP Goes to the Movies

New York Festivals, World's Best Radio Programs & Promotions

The Happy Homemaker: How Advertising Invented the Housewife

  • Business/Consumer Issues: Gold

Luxury Advertising

  • Best Writing: Silver

Grand Award: The Happy Homemaker: How Advertising Invented the Housewife


  1. ^ Age of Persuasion blog 24 Dec 2010 The Age of Persuasion has some BIG news
  2. ^ O'Reilly, Terry (2011-11-21). "Tweet from Terry O'Reilly: "Back Jan. 7th RT @DetectedTachyon: @AgeOfPersuasion Hey Terry, when do you get back on the air with AoP?"". Twitter. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  3. ^ O'Reilly, Terry. "Welcome to a Brand New Radio Show". Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  4. ^ a b The Age of Persuasion at CBC Radio
  5. ^ Names for episodes taken from Mike Tennant's Age of Persuasion FAQ, updated 30 March 2010

External links[edit]