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Hot 20 2009: The Mad Men, Andrew O’Dell and PJ Pereira

Photography Erik Almås

The scene couldn’t have been more Jerry Maguire: Two ad executives are sitting across from each other with their laptops in a Starbucks, their temporary office, the day after leaving prestigious corporate positions to start a new kind of firm—one that makes the consumer the priority. Both are thinking, "Oh, my God, what have we done?" But cliché or not, within weeks of that meeting, PJ Pereira and Andrew O’Dell had landed Lego as the first client of their namesake firm.

The toy company needed a campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic Miniman. So Pereira and O’Dell asked Miniman fans everywhere to show why they love the toy by downloading their homemade photos and videos. “This is the age of authenticity,” says CCO Pereira. “People can smell when something is contrived, and the only way to engage them is to bring the real thing.”

The campaign garnered the freshman firm two esteemed One Show Gold Pencil awards, and since then, they haven’t looked back. They quickly outgrew their original office space and transformed it into an invite-only concert venue, which they named Barrel House. Keeping in tune with Pereira & O’Dell’s renegade sensibilities, Barrel House has hosted musical draws such as We Are Scientists and Wyclef Jean for free, with the intention of preserving a sense of community within the creative world. “People ask why we’re doing this, and our response is, ‘Why not?’” says O’Dell, the CEO. “We want to keep it as a place where the act is something bigger than itself.”

Photo assistance: Tom Hood and Audrey Rudolf. Stylist: Jasmine Hamed. Styling assistance: Justin Segall. Hair + Makeup: France Pierson for Artist Untied

Check out the other 2009 Hot 20.