Advertising and Entertainment Pioneer PJ Pereira to Be Honored with American Heritage Award

April 26, 2021

WASHINGTON—The American Immigration Council will honor advertising and entertainment pioneer PJ Pereira with its American Heritage Award, which recognizes the talents, contributions, and accomplishments of immigrants and their advocates.

PJ Pereira is the founder and creative chairman of Pereira O'Dell, a full-service advertising agency with offices in San Francisco and New York, and he serves as a board member of the Ad Council. PJ Pereira and his agency are the creative force behind Belonging Begins with Us, a first-of-its-kind public service campaign launched in December 2020 with the goal of creating a more welcoming nation where everyone feels that they belong, regardless of their background or where they were born.

“PJ Pereira is a man with a very big heart and a mission to make everything he touches better, more beautiful and more meaningful. He and his team put countless pro-bono hours into bringing the ‘Belonging Begins With Us’ campaign to life,” said Wendy Feliz, founding director of the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council. “When we set out to launch this effort, we could have never imagined we would get an advertising giant of his stature to join our effort.”

The award will be presented at the American Heritage Awards on May 6 during a free, virtual celebration that will highlight the importance of storytelling and its power to inspire change. The gathering will bring to life the nationwide “Belonging Begins With Us campaign and guests will be treated to a program that features a variety of storytelling styles.

“Like many of us, I have spent years trying to hide my immigrance. Trying to blend it. Our turbulent last years changed that. They made me realize how important it is to not only take pride in our origins, but also take responsibility for inspiring confidence among others coming after you. This award, therefore, is not only a massive honor, but also an important tool, for which I am incredibly grateful,” said PJ Pereira, founder and creative chairman of Pereira O'Dell.

Pereira’s agency is credited with the creation of the first-ever social film (“The Inside Experience”) for Intel and Toshiba in 2011, which combined Hollywood talent content and social media participation. The film surpassed the triple Cannes Grand Prix winner “The Beauty Inside,” which is now being turned into a major feature film starring Emilia Clarke, and was the first piece of advertising to win an Emmy against regular TV programming.

With strong roots in digital and content, his milestones in the field include a feature film for Red Bull titled “Unflinching Triumph,” which in 2007 was named by Sports Illustrated as the “Most Amusing Sports Parody of the Year,” and an alternate-reality game titled “The Lost Ring” for McDonald’s for the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Beyond advertising, Brazilian-born Pereira is also a best-selling novelist. In 2015, his book trilogy "Gods of Both Worlds" spent a month as the top novel by a Brazilian author in his native country and was published in five other countries. In April 2017, in Brazil, he launched his fourth novel, "The Mother, The Daughter and The Lady Spirit" (“A mãe, a filha e o espírito da santa”).

His credentials in content, digital, and advertising have made him one of the world's most influential and respected creatives. He was named the Top CCO in Adweek's Creative 100, recognized by "Creativity 50," and noted in 4A's 100 People Who Make Advertising Great. Pereira served as the president of the Cannes Lions Entertainment Jury.

In years past, the American Immigration Council has recognized the achievements of other outstanding immigrants and their advocates, including Carlos Santana, General Colin Powell, Sonia Nazario, and Gerda Weissman Klein.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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