2 Minutes With ... Kate Overholt Placentra & Kim Nguyen, Creative Directors at The Martin Agency
Kate (Overholt) Placentra was 18 months old when she was crowned Little Miss Phoenix. For all of 1988 she ruled the greater metropolitan area with a tiny iron fist. Years later, she ruled a desk at Barton F. Graf, then space in an open office area of WKNY. Now she is more of a constitutional monarch at The Martin Agency.
Kim Nguyen is a Vietnamese-Texan creative director. She started her career as an intern at MTV, where she watched hours of very bad reality shows. She eventually became a writer-producer for BET and helped launch their spin-off channel, Centric, which is now BET Her. After moving into the ad world, she created award-winning campaigns for brands like DirecTV, the NFL and ESPN.
We spent two minutes with Kate and Kim to learn more about their backgrounds, creative inspirations and some recent work they've admired.
Kate and Kim, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
Kate: I grew up in the dry hot (Paradise Valley, Ariz.). I now live in the wet hot (Richmond, Va.).
Kim: I grew up in North Dallas, which is Dallas-code for Plano. Then Brooklyn, which is N.Y.-code for "a basement apartment in Kensington." Currently East Austin, which is Austin-code for "now I live in an overpriced taco truck."
How you first realized you were creative.
Kate: I've been a professional creative since 1991. My drawing was chosen to be an illustration in a book. I was given a $25 check. $25 was a lot of money for a five year old. Especially in 1991. I bought a Totally Hair Barbie. It's all been downhill from there.
Kim: My favorite local restaurant next to my high school was struggling. They sold hot dogs. I offered to dress up as a hot dog and hand out flyers on campus. I wrote several hot-dog-based puns. They said no.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
Kate: In 9th grade, I cut my hair really short. Then I had to become funnier.
Kim: I watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Matthew McConaughey plays an ad exec who tries to win a diamond account by making Kate Hudson fall in love with him, while she simultaneously is getting him to break up with her, so she can write more hard-hitting journalism for her women's magazine. They fall in love despite the dual gambits at play. It's a terrible film. Anyway, after I saw it, I said to myself, "I can make ads about diamonds." And now I make ads about insurance. But if there are any diamond accounts in review, let me know.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
Kate: Julio Torres' HBO special, My Favorite Shapes.
Kim: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. It's an incredible love story about creative partnership. And I have to mention Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. As an Asian American who loves film, I've never felt more seen. And I have never laughed or cried harder at two rocks on a cliff.
Your favorite fictional character.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
Kate: I am on mute a lot more now.
Kim: On the same day Austin shut down, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. A year or so later, I emerged from lockdown with a baby and a recipe for perfectly boiled eggs. She is the best thing that ever happened to me personally and professionally, and having a kid has fundamentally changed how I view work and life in only good ways. I make her perfectly boiled eggs every week.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
Kate: I once made a deep dish pizza compete in a dog show. That was fun. Or this ad about how I always lose my wallet.
Kim: It's still "Marionettes" for DirecTV. It's so old, but it remains the stupidest campaign I've ever written and the most fun I've had making anything. A very close second is when I got to meet Animal from the Muppets while making a Geico commercial.
A recent project you're proud of.
Kate: Kim and I just worked on a cool project for Donate Life America. We made a set of gaming dice with organs in them, only available to organ donors. As far as I know they're the only gaming dice out there that really help people. And they taste great!
Kim: "The Healing Dice" for Donate Life America. Organ donation is not the sexiest cause of the nonprofit world. Organs are gross and weird and death is sad. But somehow, Donate Life and Martin have made some of the most memorable award-winning pro bono work in our industry. And because of that history of incredible work, this client trusts Martin completely. They're so open to entertaining ideas. This year, we convinced them to make a set of dice for tabletop role playing gamers. They are beautiful organ dice that the TTRPG community has loved, and so far we've seen a huge increase in registered donors from this group.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
Kate: "Surfer" from Guinness.
Kim: Pizza Pops. Before this, I had not seen anything that so surprisingly fit a hilarious story in 15 seconds. Until Geico did it a few years later with "Unskippaables." But now so many folks on TikTok are doing this kind of storytelling. I love things that take a known format and break it to find very funny, unexpected jokes.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Kate: This ad for a dog lawyer is perfect.
Kim: Callen is always doing dumb-fun stuff. As the industry keeps moving away from laugh-out-loud comedy, that shop has been holding down the fort for funny-weird work. Their in-home advertising for PBR was a great pandemic-marketing solve, and the Ibotta stuff is visually stupid and wonderful.
Your main strength as a creative person.
Kate: Sometimes I am funny.
Kim: My psychotic optimism.
Your biggest weakness.
Kate: Sometimes I am not funny.
Kim: My psychotic optimism is a lot sometimes.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Kim: A good joke.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Kate: Poachers who hunt elephants.
Kim: A bad joke.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
Kate: Helping elephants.
Kim: Teaching. Traveling. Running a rescue for old incontinent bulldogs.