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O Positive, home to a filmmaking roster known for comedy, has brought director Jess Coulter on board for commercial representation. She has directed spots for FedEx, Twix, Verdesian and Geico, among others. Most recently an award-winning creative director at BBDO New York, Coulter also draws from improv and sketch writing/acting/directing with NYC’s Upright Citizens Brigade and The Pit, along with screenwriting and still photography.
As a creative director at BBDO, Coulter helped create popular campaigns for Foot Locker, HBO, Snickers, Lowe’s, Twix, AT&T and FedEx that took home awards including Cannes Lions, One Show Pencils, CLIOS, Effies and AICP honors. She and her agency partner Eli Terry also brought their winning brand of comedy to the highly touted PSA “A Long Five Years” for the National Partnership for Women & Families. It uses the absurd comedy of a woman who still works at 260 weeks pregnant to underscore the issue of not having paid family leave.
Coulter, 37, grew up in Portland, Ore., and graduated from University of Oregon where she double majored in Creative Advertising and Video Production. She worked for several years with agencies in the Northwest before moving to New York and joining Saatchi & Saatchi as a senior copywriter, then moved to BBDO in 2010. Coulter began directing in 2016 while still a creative. BBDO championed her move to the director’s chair from the start and were among the crew on her first spot for FedEx who stood up and cheered when she wrapped. That same year she was a Makers@ awardee and was named one of Business Insider’s 30 most creative women in advertising.
“I’ve known Jess for years, and she is smart and talented and motivated, and O Positive needs smart and talented and motivated people,” said O Positive director/partner Jim Jenkins. “Actually, Jess will be our first one, so we expect that she’ll do extremely well.”
Coulter related, “Comedy is what lights me up and O Positive is where the masters are. I’ve spent the past 10 years on O Pos sets slowly creepin’ my chair closer and closer to the camera to watch these guys work. It’s been a schooling that will continue through the conscious mentorship that goes on between all the directors on the roster no matter how seasoned, which I love.”
O Positive director/partner David Shane assessed, “She’s a natural storyteller and, like most truly funny people, she’s a sharp and empathetic observer of people.”
Coulter described her inspiration as “humanity,” and relates, “Humans do the darndest things, and I make a point to notice as much of it as I can. I also try and live many lives.”
She’s done just that. At different points in her career, Coulter has been a hip-hop dancer, food writer, burlesque world champion, mock fashion Instagrammer, Krav Maga fighter, jingle singer and NFL cheerleader.
She added, “Basically I want to become the female Jim Jenkins or David Shane until somebody out there wants to be the male Jess Coulter.”