PJ Pereira Explains What Brands and Agencies Need to Know About Branded Entertainment With This New Book

First book by a Cannes Lions jury

The first book by a Cannes Lions jury will debut at the festival later this month.
The Art of Branded Entertainment

Given the breakneck pace of judging at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, it seems impossible for a jury to do anything other than, well, judge the mountain of work in front of them. That was certainly true for the 2017 Lions Entertainment jury.

But a few months later, long after the festival ended, the group found that the nuanced discussions they had had about branded entertainment weren’t reflected out in the world, making it a fruitful area to dig into. That’s why, under the leadership of jury president, Pereira & O’Dell co-founder and CCO PJ Pereira, much of the jury got back together to get those discussions going again and write a book, The Art of Branded Entertainment.

At this year’s festival the group will debut the book, which is the first to be published by a Cannes Jury, with a book party on June 19 and a panel discussion at the Palais on the 20th. It is being published by Peter Owen Publishers in London and will be available worldwide as a special digital pre-release and in paperback on select bookshelves in the U.K. on June 14, 2018. It will be available at retailers worldwide on Oct. 4, 2018.)

Adweek caught up with Pereira to learn how they put together a book, what brands and agencies should know and why they are bringing it to Cannes Lions this year.

Adweek: How did the idea for the book come about?
PJ Pereira: One of the traditions at Cannes is that the president addresses the jury to share his or her perspective on the days ahead. My request was that they left their understanding of what branded entertainment was outside the room. We were not there to teach the world what we thought the discipline was, but to learn on behalf of the industry what it is becoming.

We all took that idea very seriously and the winners we picked reflect that. A few months later, though, we looked back and realized how a lot of the nuances behind our choices were lost if you just look at the winners list alone. So we decided to write about it so more people could have access to everything we learned on that journey.

Why do a book about branded content?
The ad industry is full of smart people. We always knew that given the choice, a lot of people would rather not have ads interrupting their shows. But we got lazy and tried to stretch the format for as long as possible. We waited so much that it opened the flanks for barbarians from tech, entertainment and independent creators who are destroying the model that keeps advertising alive. Now we have to rush, because the only answer we have is a discipline we still know very little about.

Being realistic, ads will always exist, but they will decrease in importance, which will force us to find other ways and opportunities to talk to consumers. We believe this opportunity lies on being the content consumers will seek, instead of interrupting it. Competing and partnering with the shows, movies, songs and other forms of entertainment that already have their attention.

But that requires an adjustment on the entire ecosystem—media, PR and creative agencies, talent management, Hollywood producers, video game creators, brands … Since our jury already had that kind of composition, we had the rare opportunity to discuss the theme with a wide perspective that doesn’t happen often. That only increased our sense of responsibility and the need to write about our debate.

What are the biggest takeaways from the book? What are the top lessons about branded content that agency folks and brand marketers need to know?
1. That brands and agencies need to work as hard to make sure ideas are a good use of consumers’ time as they fight to make sure they are worth the brands’ money.
2. That we have a unique opportunity to redesign the roles and interactions between marketing (both agencies and marketers) and entertainment (content creators, talent, channels).