McMaster receives treasure trove of ad materials from Pirate Group

By Michelle Donovan, February 15, 2012

    Advertising samples and other materials included in the extensive Pirate Group donation to McMaster University
A significant collection of advertising campaign materials from some of North America's most iconic brands - Molson, Coca Cola, Pepsi, McDonald's, General Motors and Budweiser among them - has been donated to McMaster University from the Pirate Group.

Pirate Group is the largest advertising audio production company in Canada, co-founded in 1990 by Terry O'Reilly, and includes partners Tom Eymundson, Chris Tait, Tom Goudie and Vanya Drakul.

The unique archive documents the creation of some 50,000 radio and television commercials from 1981-2007, featuring celebrities such as Leslie Nielson, Bob Newhart, Ellen DeGeneres, John Cleese, Jay-Z, Kiefer Sutherland and Eugene Levy.

There are concept presentations, casting sessions and auditions, script edits, music demos, final tracks, sheet music and lyrics and final commercials, among other materials.

It includes preparatory materials for such notable commercials as Becel's "I Cant Believe Its Not Butter" series, spots for the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Super Bowl, Eaton's, the first ads for early cell phones and campaign ads for prime ministers.

"This is an industry of stories," says O'Reilly, who is well-known to Canadians as the host of CBC Radios long-running The Age of Persuasion - a weekly program exploring the world of advertising and its impact on popular culture, recently re-launched as Under the Influence.

"Advertising touches every aspect of life, and this collection not only illuminates the craft of persuasion, but it proves that advertising is a reflection of our culture at any given time. We believe it's important to preserve ads, to collect them, so they are not lost to the sands of time. Our hope is that this collection will help students and researchers to study our industry, help them spot trends, analyze communication techniques and, above all, inspire the next generation of advertising people."

Students from across all disciplines - marketing, communications, advertising and popular culture, among others - will have access to the collection, thought to be the largest of its kind in Canada.

"This is an outstanding collection of truly iconic commercials and advertising campaigns," says University librarian Jeff Trzeciak. "It is a remarkable source of information for our students and faculty, providing them with concrete examples of the entire creative process."