Pereira says he remembers traveling to New York in 2018 for an Ad Council meeting, “in a distant time when we still traveled.” According to Pereira, the Ad Council announced that its latest project would be on this sense of belonging in America, and he immediately turned around to Hillman, requesting to work on it.
See, for Pereira, an immigrant from Brazil, the issue is personal. In a 2013 op-ed he penned for Ad Age, Pereira urged the U.S. ad industry to speak up on behalf of immigrants and asked what would it be “without people like Linus Karlsson, Nick Law, David Droga, Rei Inamoto or Jose Molla?”
“It’s a very complicated issue,” Pereira says. “It’s so politically charged but I want to be on the human side of this. This is nonpartisan.”
He says the inspiration for the creative came from the scene in “Forrest Gump” where a young Forrest is having trouble finding someone who will let him sit next to them on the school bus (of course, before the love of his life, Jenny, invites him to pop a squat next to her).
While it’s a fictional movie, Pereira says that scene was very real to him and he experiences something similar “every time I go to a new place with my family. We see it. We see people looking at us thinking ‘you’re not one of us.’ That is a reality we immigrants recognize, but everyone can feel a little bit of that,” he explains.
Pereira says it was also an eye-opening experience working on the campaign with his agency, which employs more people with international roots than he originally knew—including Pereira O’Dell San Francisco Managing Director Natalie Nymark, and New York Managing Director Mona Gonzalez, both first-generation Americans.
“It’s definitely opened up a dialogue for us that we normally wouldn’t have had,” Nymark says, noting how many people with different backgrounds avoid talking about their experiences. “This campaign and the emotions it tapped cracked the dialogue wide open for us.”
Gonzalez says she saw herself in the woman in the final scene, carrying her daughter as a white family casts wary glances their way. The scene particularly resonated with her as both a child to Palestinian immigrants and now a mother to a daughter herself. “As people see it, I really want them to see themselves in it,” she says.