Terry’s Strategy: O’Reilly looks to the future
December 12, 2012 | Jeromy Lloyd | Comments
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 17 issue of Marketing
After 22 years at Pirate Radio, the voice of the industry is moving on. What’s he thinking?
This won’t be the first time Terry O’Reilly has changed tracks, and if history is any indication, he’ll probably get it right again.
When he co-founded Pirate Radio in 1990, it was to create a place where creative could flourish during the production stage of commercial development. Pirate now has an office in the U.S. and a client list that stretches from coast to coast. His radio show, Under the Influence, is a favourite among CBC listeners, and the soft- but well-spoken Sudbury native has expanded his broadcasting repertoire to take on occasional hosting duties on CBC’s Q.
O’Reilly left Pirate on Dec. 12 to focus on marketing strategy consulting. Marketing (and the rest of the industry) was dying to know what he thinks about the state of strategic thinking and radio’s future.
On moving to strategy
“I always tell my clients that coming up with great strategy is like looking at a 5,000-piece puzzle that’s all sky. It feels so overwhelming sometimes. I want to help clients formulate that. Because I come from a creative background, I’ll have one eye on that point of view. A great ad can never be any bigger or better than the strategy.”
On what makes a great strategy
“The language of strategy should be vivid. It should set [the creative team’s] minds racing. Beyond that, there should be a great business strategy that looks at the market and for a way to wedge its foot in the door, playing off a major competitor and looking for a weakness. Great strategy has to emanate from the client. Agencies do a lot of great thinking, trying to embellish their strategies, bring them to another level, but it has to start with the advertiser.”
On the changing nature of marketing VPs
“When I entered the business, I was sitting across the table from directors of marketing that had been there for 15 years, really understood their product in their DNA, and the resulting strategy was very calculated and smart. But over time I think the bean counters got elevated into those positions. There are great strategists out there, don’t get me wrong. But even when I work with clients directly, they have a hard time articulating their plan. ‘Sell more product’ is not a strategy. It’s a goal.”
On the effects of digital media
“Here we are in the digital world and most people don’t like sound on the web. The first button they jump for is to turn the sound off on a website. The web hasn’t caught up to sound yet, but I think it will. Maybe the quality of computer speakers has to get better before people will embrace that.”
On radio as ‘the afterthought’ medium
“Marketers still feel you can’t brand on radio, that it’s a tactical medium, but it can be much more than that. Some marketers get it. Bonnie Brooks [Hudson’s Bay Co. president] gets it. The Bay does mostly radio and print, which is interesting for a multibillion-dollar business.”
On Canada’s media preferences
“I think we’re a big radio nation because of the geography. We have a big, spread-out country and we do a lot of driving. I also think Canada does some of the best radio [marketing] in the world, although you wouldn’t know it from our domestic award shows. Our spots win internationally quite often, and they’re rarely recognized domestically, which I’ve always struggled with.”
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