New Talent: Kelly Foreman
It’s a rare treat indeed for a junior copywriter to have a Super Bowl spot under their belt so early. Rarer still for it to be one of the funniest big game ads of 2017. Yet that’s an honour Kelly Foreman can proudly tout.
While at GSD&M, Kelly was one of the brains behind Avocados From Mexico’s brilliant #AvoSecrets spot, which featured comedian Jon Lovitz and a gaggle of loose-lipped Illuminati members. Following this, Chicago-based agency The Escape Pod snapped her up before anyone else could harness her brain and the comedy genius it contains.
LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with the now fully-fledged copywriter to find out what inspires her.
LBB> Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
Kelly Foreman> I’m from Wilmette, Illinois, which is a lil’ northern suburb of Chicago where kids wear boat shoes to soccer practice.
Growing up I was - and continue to be - the polar opposite of my twin brother, which wasn’t super beneficial when I was little. People couldn’t get him to shut up when we were younger, so, naturally, I was mute. I spoke so little that teachers suggested I repeat kindergarten - but I persevered. Quietly.
Instead of speaking I was way more interested in art. And Aladdin. I was always painting with watercolours, always drawing with crayons, and never, ever speaking. If you’re picturing the weird, artsy brother in Wedding Crashers you’re not far off.
LBB> Where did you learn your craft?
KF> I eventually decided that speaking was something I should do more often because I loved the reactions I got from people when I said something funny. This turned into a fascination with writing when I learned I could get a whole range of reactions through the power of storytelling. It was the most natural way for my weird lil’ self to communicate without having to talk to humans. So. I wrote a lot. I kept journals that were everything you’d expect a tweenage girl to write about. If you broke my journal topics into a pie chart, it would be a circle about the boys I danced with at Bar Mitzvahs. I was also so good at AOL instant messenger - you have no idea.
LBB> You had a hand in this year's Avocados from Mexico Super Bowl spot. You must've been beaming! Can you tell us a little about working on the project? Any memorable moments?
KF> I cried! The good kind! It was legiterally a dream come true decades before I ever thought it would. A big part of that was because I was at an agency awesome enough to allow anyone to put ideas forward for the project - even sweet, baby juniors. So my Art Director, AK Sanford (hay gurl!), and I agreed to not have a social life for a couple weeks and overstayed our welcome at multiple coffee shops almost every night. Everything we thought of made us laugh. Probably because we were fully going insane. It was amazing. It’s projects like that—the ones where you’re excited about every idea and it seems unfair that you get paid to be doing something that feels like a hobby—that’s the reason we’re all in this industry, right? Every step of that process was full of big, juicy memories. Although, one of the more surprising moments to come out of it was when we found conspiracy theories ABOUT our conspiracy theory spot. We found over ten videos condemning the spot for openly mocking ‘truthers’ and perpetuating Satan’s agenda within the first week of its release. People truly believed that the illuminati was behind it. Which means they thought I was in a club with Beyoncé. So.
LBB> I love your sense of humour. What would you say are your biggest comedy influences?
KF> Well, thank you! I watch an embarrassing amount of comedy so it’s hard to pinpoint one comedian or show that inspires me most. Basically, I draw inspiration from an amalgamation of comedy gathered from an upsetting amount of time spent in front of a screen. It’s like I’m bilingual in movie quotes. I actually think of myself as a comedy chameleon because sometimes I’ll subconsciously pick up speech patterns depending on what I’m watching. I should really watch more Sorkin shows so I sound more intellectual. Or read more. Either way.
LBB> What drew you to The Escape Pod?
KF> I wanted to work at a small shop for same reason kids with Cheetos-dusted fingers do anything—I wanted to touch everything. And The Escape Pod lets you touch everything that comes through the door and then some. It also didn’t hurt that The Escape Pod is captained by ad legend Vinny Warren.
LBB> Which pieces of work are you proud of and why?
KF> I’m proudest of the Let’s Grow Old Together campaign I did for Walgreens HIV. You don’t get a chance to help people enough in this industry and I was lucky enough to work with a team that made sure that happened. Watching our HIV-positive cast find support from each other was such an incredibly powerful moment that I am honoured to have helped inspire.
LBB> In two years, you’ve come pretty far – from Havas, to GSD&M to The Escape Pod. Any words of advice for aspiring copywriters out there?
KF> Be. Confident. In. Your. Work. BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR WORK. And if you’re not confident in your work, why are you presenting it? Pitch stuff you’d be proud to make. Also this should be easy, but remarkably isn’t: don’t be an asshole.
LBB> What are your aims for the next 12 months?
KF> Same thing it will be for the next 12 years. I want to create more things that make my parents’ friends ask “how did you even think of that?” every time I see them. Also, Norm, if you’re reading this I want a raise.
LBB> What do you do outside of work to let off some steam?
KF> When I’m not watching an embarrassing amount of comedies I’m usually doing puzzles. I’m a big time puzzles fan (read: nerd). Sudoku, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles…it’s a form of meditation for me. I put on music and focus almost too hard sifting through a thousand tiny pieces that eventually make up a picture of dogs underwater. That’s the one I just finished. Yes, I have friends.
LBB> Finally, tell us a little about your haikus on your portfolio site, ‘cos I love them.
KF> Oh, those little guys? Haikus are definitely not news at this point, but they kind of bubbled out of me and I felt like I had to write them down. And then I showed one to a couple people and they giggled so I wrote more. Maybe that was me chameleoning Shel Silverstein.