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Under The Influence host Terry O’Reilly answers listener questions

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From the inspiration behind the Under The Influence theme song, to why some commercials overstay their welcome, to whether lawn signs really affect elections, host Terry O’Reilly answers listener questions sent through social media.


@sireland30 asks on Instagram:

“I’m curious about the inspiration behind the intro theme songs to both Age of Persuasion and Under The Influence. Was there an intended feeling or image you wanted the listener to imagine? Do marketers purposefully craft songs/themes and jingles to promote warm feelings toward their products?”

Well, let me answer your last question first.

Yes, all marketers purposely craft music to fit their brand or the advertising idea in a commercial.

Many times, the music is composed to fit the idea of the commercial. For example, if it was a beer commercial, the music would be written accordingly – to be cool and fun.

If it was a dramatic car commercial – showing a car zooming along a winding road – the music would be exciting.

As for the theme music for Under The Influence, when we first talked to composers Ari Posner and Ian Lefeuvre, we wanted the theme to reflect the show we had planned. We wanted it to sound interesting but cheeky, with lots of twists and turns. We wanted it to be instantly recognizable and we wanted it to reflect the humour of the show.

Plus, we asked them to create five little pockets in the theme where we could insert famous advertising slogans – as you hear at the start of each episode. And as you may have noticed, each of those slogans begins with the word “You’re” which eventually leads into “You’re Under The Influence.”

I love our theme song.


On Facebook, Dave Thielking asks:

“What happened to all of the physical media that held commercials? For example, the 16mm film for TV or the tapes for radio. Are there classic commercials that will never been seen again? Did anyone archive this stuff or is it gone forever?”

That’s an excellent – and important – question, Dave.

Now that everything has gone digital, I think a lot of that old media is now lost to the sands of time. Or let me be more precise: Canadian commercials are being lost to the sands of time.

Doing research for this show reveals a lot about the state of commercial archives.

I can say, without any hesitation, that I can find virtually any ad or commercial ever done in the United States. Americans are serious about archiving their marketing history.

On the other hand, it’s extremely difficult in Canada to find past ads. An online Canadian advertising museum tried to get off the ground a few years ago, but stalled due to funding issues.

Our company, Pirate, donated over 50,000 commercials to McMaster University a number of years ago.

Ads and commercials reflect every decade and are a fascinating way to research an era. In the archives we donated to McMaster, you will find the first cellular phone advertising, the first AIDS public service announcements, Olympic advertising, federal and provincial election advertising, post-SARS advertising for the city of Toronto, advertising for famous brands that are long gone – like Eatons and Canadian Airlines and much, much more.

A friend of mine once saw some of my advertising work in a museum in Japan, yet you wouldn’t be able to find it here in Canada.

It’s a shame that Canada hasn’t taken a major step to preserve its advertising history – and that’s my two cents.


On Twitter, Allan Kelly asks an interesting question:

“What’s the oldest tagline still used today?”

That’s a tough one to pin down. I’m going to say the oldest slogan still in use today might be for Ivory Soap.

The slogan: 99 44/100th percent pure.

It was created in 1882 and is still on the packaging today.


Dr. Trent Tucker sends us an interesting question on Twitter. He asks:

“Do lawn signs make any difference in an election?”

I’m going to give you my personal answer to this:

Yes.

I believe lawn signs signal momentum in an election. That momentum for a particular party may sway undecided voters.

There is a truism in marketing – and you see it used all the time on car lots.

When dealerships put SOLD signs on cars – it attracts business. It could be that potential car buyers sense there are deals to be had at that dealership, or that the brand of car is extremely popular for a reason.

In any event, it spurs activity.

The bigger, more important element in elections is getting the vote out. Politicians may have a big block of supporters, but getting them out to the polls is the trick.

In the latest Ontario election, 58% voted.

It was the highest turnout in 20 years. There were a lot of lawn signs up in this election. Maybe being surrounded by lawn signs might have spurred unmotivated voters to step up this time.


Bob Prentice and Debbie Garland pose similar questions about annoying commercials:

“Some ad campaigns seem to overstay their welcome. Is it an ad agency decision to continue? The company’s lack of future budget for new ads? Cheap media rates? Or is it a combo of many things?”

The quick answer is: The commercial is still on the air because it’s still working.

It’s a mysterious aspect of marketing – sometimes a commercial that is annoying can still drive sales.

Or – and I’ve said this often – an annoying commercial is annoying because it isn’t aimed at you. It’s aimed at a different audience – and that audience isn’t annoyed.

This reminds me of a funny and insightful story about a famous adman from the 50s and 60s, named Rosser Reeves.

Reeves is famous in advertising because he developed an advertising concept called the “USP” or “Unique Selling Proposition.”

In a nutshell, Reeves believed a brand should be built around the single biggest benefit the product delivers. He believed all advertising should pivot on the one thing that makes that product unique.

And he believed in repetition. Lots of repetition.

With that philosophy, Rosser Reeves attracted a lot of clients and built a very big advertising agency.

But it has to be said that Reeves also created advertising that made people hate advertising.

Here’s a taste of Reeves’ handiwork for Anacin. This commercial actually ran on Ed Sullivan the night the Beatles first appeared on the show in February of 1964:

That commercial ran unchanged for seven years.

It probably created as many headaches as it relieved. Sales tripled. That commercial made more money for Anacin than Gone With The Wind and it was made for $8,000.

When another client of Reeves complained that his commercial hadn’t been changed in five years and demanded to know what the 120 people working on his account were getting paid for, Reeves said, “Their getting paid to keep you from changing your ad.”

Reeves believed in running an ad until he had wrung every last sale out of it.

An interesting side note: Adman David Ogilvy was the polar opposite of Rosser Reeves. He believed in creating classy commercials, commercials that told stories and were a pleasure to watch.

Ogilvy railed against Reeves’ philosophy and one day Ogilvy told him his repetitive commercials were irritating.

Reeves just looked at Ogilvy and said, “Do you want to be liked or do you want to be successful?”

And there you have the divide between two advertising giants with two conflicting advertising philosophies.

Here’s the second side note: Ogilvy and Reeves were brothers-in-law.


For these questions and more from Under The Influence, click or tap on the “Listen” tab to hear the full episode.

You can also find us on the CBC Radio app or subscribe to our Podcast.


Under The Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio – a 1969 Airstream trailer that’s been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O’Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

Follow the journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and search for the hashtag: #Terstream.

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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