Six Things You Didn't Know About Pereira & O'Dell's PJ Pereira

The Creative Hails from Brazil But is Into Kung-Fu and West African Mythology

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Pereira & O'Dell chief creative officer, PJ Pereira, has been leading the San Francisco-based agency through solid, entertaining work in the last year, from the memorable Smokable Songbook for Snoop Lion, to following up Intel and Toshiba's social movie "Inside," with the excellent "The Beauty Inside."

Adland can spot him a mile away thanks to his signature eyewear, what he calls those "odd goggles". They began as an accessory not for style, but for a functional purpose. Because the air in San Francisco is pretty dry, and he doesn't sleep much, Mr. Pereira's doctor told him to find some glasses that protected his peepers from the wind. But he says it's now become part of his persona – some clients even call him "Goggles."

Mr. Pereira is one of the creativity industry's outspoken leaders. He has plenty to say - mostly in his own language, which he dubs PortuEnglish - about the need for immigration reform and other subjects. Here, we queried him to learn about the lesser-known aspects of his personality.

Credit: Pereira practicing Kung-Fu with his son 

1. He has a black belt in Kung Fu. He has boxing or classes in the martial art scheduled every day of the week. His father was a Judo black belt, and he says it happened because he wanted to be a "badass" like him. He's even pushing his son to do it, but so far, karate has failed and fencing has gotten a lukewarm reaction. "Let's see," he says.

2. He is very interested in West African mythology. He has experience in African ceremonies where men possessed by the spirits of ancestors give advice to their community - a phenomenon that, Mr. Pereira believes, is what led to our fascination with zombies. While he got uncomfortable at first with the ceremony, he said he "found an incredibly kind people," and fell in love with and studied the mythology and religion behind it. He even wrote an 800-page page about it, which he's now trying to publish, eight years after he first penned it. If an agent or publisher is reading this right now, get in touch.

3. He loves China, but doesn't care for sea cucumber. Last year, tracking his international trips for his citizenship process, he found that he has spent six full months inside a plane in the past five years. While he takes every opportunity to stay at home now, if it's China, he'll go. He even found a Kung Fu teacher in Beijing to give him private classes for four hours a day. He loves the food, except for the aforementioned sea cucumber, which he says it tastes like a spoon of Vaseline that has been buried in the ground and dried.

Credit: Pereira  hanging out with former president Bill Clinton 

4. He once taught Bill Clinton to say his name. It was during Cannes last year, when President Clinton was on stage before him. While they were offstage before the presentation, the President came up to him and asked, "So, you come after me, how do I introduce you?" Mr. Pereira said there was no need, but he insisted, and then they rehearsed his name for a few minutes. He says it was the "best pronunciation of 'Pereira' I'd ever heard from any American."

5. He proposed to his wife after she saved his life. They were driving to the theater on a regular Sunday night when two armed men pointed a gun at him, took their credit cards and drove them to a dark alley, where they separated he and his now-spouse. While Mr. Pereira tried to figure out what to do, two blocks away, she asked her captor why he was coughing. Upon hearing he had pneumonia, she gave him her coat. He was so touched, he let them both go. "That same night, staring at the ceiling and thinking I could have died before I had a chance to live so many things, I proposed to her," he said.

6. He was raised in a crazy cult from the 1970s. They told him he was "very special," and that he was part of a small group hand-picked by God. When he turned 21, he realized how "crazy" that was and left to Sao Paulo. "Sometimes I wonder if my obsessive competitiveness isn't an attempt to feel that special again," he said. "But then I realize how crazy that is and think about something else. Kung fu, usually."

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