Resetting the rules in advertising

Efficiency has become more of a priority than creativity, says award-winning Brazilian adman PJ Pereira.

"What if advertising was invented today?" asks PJ Pereira, the Rio-born, San-Francisco–based chief creative officer of Pereira & O'Dell.

Pereira is not only a Cannes Lion Grand Prix winner but also the winner of the first Emmy for an advertising campaign, for his social web series The Beauty Inside.

If advertising were invented today, we wouldn't be doing the same things, believes Pereira. The industry has become incredibly fragmented, with an intense focus on the individual parts and specialisation. Efficiency has become prioritised over the magic of creativity.

But this doesn't work anymore when all the rules are being reset, says Pereira. He considers how to bring together so many different personalities, priorities and perspectives in this new version of the advertising industry. As a solution, he proposes a different set of rules.

Think like a marketer

Key to creative storytelling in an advertising context is to maintain a marketing discipline.

Most successful campaigns have taken an idea and repeated it over and over again, but kept it fresh. You have to stay focussed and still stay fresh, and that takes discipline.

Behave like an entertainer

Make people want to "watch" your ad as if it is content.

In the past, brands and products were the subject of the story in advertising. But people are no longer interested in the product before they watch an ad, so you need to make the ad about something they care about. People don't love the story – they love the character. If you turn brands into characters people will LOVE it, says Pereira.

Within this model, the three key ingredients are story, distribution and application. The same applies to Hollywood, Madison Avenue or Silicon Valley: "If you miss on any of these three things you don't have anything," says Pereira.
Driving this point home is the belief of Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg that the intersection between linear storytelling and social engagement is the next big thing.

Move like a tech startup

The startup culture lives by the mantra "We don't make things right, we make them right faster." Some key learnings can be taken from this mindset that prioritises agility, reiteration and constant improvement.

Experimentation, real world testing and rapid development are some of these. You have to be prepared for surprises – good or bad, be ready to improvise and let the world happen to you instead of fighting back.

Be diverse. Don't fight the flow, Pereira says.

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