Gavin Keilly is the CEO of GBK Productions, a luxury lifestyle gifting and special events company, specializing in entertainment marketing integration. Founded by Keilly in 2001, the Beverly Hills-based company is widely known in the entertainment industry for bringing that little extra something to the Gifting Lounge environment. Seventy percent of their clients are small to medium size businesses and over half of those are owned by women. He’s seen everything gifted from luxurious vacations to over-the-top jewelry pieces and free plastic surgery vouchers.
We talked to Keilly about the luxury industry and the truth about celebrity swag bags and the cool lounges we get peeks of at those high-class Hollywood events. Gavin shot straight from the hip when we asked him about the benefits of giveaways, especially because so many businesses are keen on them.
“Let me be clear, celebrity swag bags are not a great investment. Celebrity gift lounges are an amazing investment. This is an opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with the celebrity and show them your product. It is a quid-pro-quo. The business only gives away their product in exchange for photos in return. These businesses also get the amazing opportunity to educate 30-40 press outlets about their product or service,” Keilly explained. “Companies then potentially can use the photos they receive on their website, at their trade shows, in social media and submit them to a myriad of press outlets.”
Keilly, 45, said it’s a no-brainer, but definitely only do a gift lounge, so you get all the benefits that go along with it. You should never just “send” your product to a celebrity or throw it in a “gift bag.” He said giveaways do work as long as you are getting enough exposure for your investment. Examples of companies he said that are doing it right are Demo and R.O.I.
Keilly’s GBK has six employees and consists of five divisions: GBK Celebrity Gifting, GBK Special Events, GBK Weddings, GBK Charitable Consulting and GBK Marketing/Public Relations. The company has a history of doing things with a charitable eye. They recently helped the American Red Magen David for Israel, an ambulance, blood-services and disaster-relief organization, raise over $7 million at their Gala Dinner. They also produced a flawless event for the Grammy Museum with Lady Gaga and John Legend.
Keilly launched GBK with his savings account and a couple of small loans. Because so much of the work he does is based upon relationships, his early startup challenges included finding the right brands that he thought the celebrities would like, convincing brands this was a great opportunity and worth their investment and convincing celebrities that coming to the GBK Gift Lounge was worth their time. He also had to assure the press that they would get enough to write a great article.
There was no way he could do all of the work by himself and he said delegation is just one of the struggles entrepreneurs have been trying to transition from startup to a sustainable business. He had launched two Internet startups in the past and also previously worked as a financial advisor. “You can’t do everything yourself. Find the right people to be able to delegate to,” Keilly said. “Also, always think of ways that you can expand. It might be opening another office or hiring more sales people. Paying commission for a sale which you may not have gotten in the first place is always a good thing.”
Keilly said GBK’s main goal is to create a “win-win-win. We only take on a project or client that we know will benefit from our services.” He said he uses PMA – positive mental attitude – to stay motivated. That, and most importantly, his six-year-old daughter.