Agency A-List 2013

Pereira & O'Dell Is No. 6 on Ad Age's Agency A-List

Five-Year-Old Shop Grows Roster of Top Marketers While Maintaining Risk-Taking Culture of a Startup

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Pereira and ODell

With clients that run from Intel to Snoop Dogg, five-year-old Pereira & O'Dell is growing a roster of top-tier marketers but maintaining the risk-taking culture of a startup.

Still young, and small by Madison Avenue standards, the San Francisco-based shop's growth trajectory has big, established agencies looking over their shoulders. Last year Pereira & O'Dell's revenue was $20.4 million, a 40% increase over 2011, as it won new business from the likes of Mattel, Burger King, and Henkel North America's Dial. It performed so well on new business that when a big account, the University of Phoenix, went into review, it didn't hesitate (and declined) to defend.

The shop, a partnership between two former AKQA executives, CEO Andrew O'Dell, a native Tennessean, and Brazilian-born chief creative P.J. Pereira, expanded rapidly during the darkest days of the global recession and was named Ad Age's Small Agency of the Year in 2010.

Its success and the heritage of Mr. Pereira attracted strategic investment from Brazilian marketing-services giant Grupo ABC. The parent company's magnate, Nizan Guanaes, hopes to catapult Pereira & O'Dell into a global network, and there's good reason to believe in the shop's ability to work in global markets. Take, for instance, the 12 million impressions it generated through a PR stunt for mobile-tech company Jawbone last year after commissioning Snoop Dogg and Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2 to collaborate on a single using Jawbone's technology.

But much of the magic is still taking place in the U.S., where the shop staffs 130 across three offices -- San Francisco headquarters, which houses nearly 100 staffers (the "Barrel House" private bar and event space is adjacent to the San Franciso office), and at outposts in New York and Los Angeles. There's also a Sao Paulo office.

Some of Pereira & O'Dell's most innovative work last year was for two existing clients: Intel and Toshiba, which tapped the agency for a carefully plotted web series with viral hooks, a followup to a thriller it created in 2011. Starring Topher Grace, "The Beauty Inside" tells the story of a man who wakes up every day with a completely different body, which presents a big problem when he falls in love. Fans were courted on Facebook to try out for the protagonist's various incarnations, and more than 4,000 auditioned while the series was viewed 69 million times.

While the heritage of the agency is digital, the partners intend for it not to be pigeonholed into any category. They note that some of their most-visible projects last year were as far removed from digital as could be, such as the smokable songbook of Snoop Dogg's greatest hits P&O created to promote the rapper's new line of rolling papers.

Messrs. Pereira and O'Dell also point to the work on "Rolling Words" as an example of their determination to not become risk-averse even as they become more successful. "There's an impulsiveness about this company that I think is very interesting, and we try to make sure that people are capable of working with that," said Mr. O'Dell.

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