Humans of JNI: George Gottlieb
Hi, I’m George and I run Boat Studios, a creative content production company that operates, as our name suggests, on a boat moored in central London.
I’ve worked with JNI for the last few years and, in that time, I’ve realised that branded merchandising and content creation are incredibly similar. Both are about understanding the needs of a client and producing a product that informs customers in a fun and engaging way. But, of course, JNI works with physical products whereas Boat Studios doesn’t. Working with JNI gives me the chance to learn something new. Its just the latest in a series of experiences that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
Some of my first professional experiences were working on feature films at Pinewood Studios in the locations department. I was called a ‘marshmallow’ because my official job role was Locations Marshall, and I was so new to it I was soft and squishy. After Pinewood, I went to university and studied Digital Photography at Ravensbourne where I was also accepted into the Ogilvy and Mathers year-long undergraduate program in Canary Wharf. That’s where I learnt the inner workings of advertising and marketing.
While at Uni, I bought a boat to save spending valuable capital on extortionate London rent. With a camera always in my hand, I started shooting commercials, portraits and events across the city. This was right at the beginning of brands beginning to jump on social media so that work quickly grew into a fast-paced business. I quickly realised I needed two things: 1 a bigger boat, and 2, a talented crew to help churn out all this social content and, like my uni rent, I didn’t want to spend money on expensive office space with lengthy contracts.
So I moved my professional life on deck as well. My only regret was that the team and I missed out on the free beer at WeWork offices. However, everyone's paycheck was that little bit bigger for the office savings.
Despite the DIY necessary to keep us afloat, it’s been an adventure and it’s obviously now a big part of my business’ identity. Clients definitely use our floating retreat as an excuse to escape the office and spend a sunny afternoon on the water.
As we create marketing assets for a vast number of clients, it brings me into contact with multiple industries. Industries that as a marketer, I have to learn about and understand before I can direct their commercials. This means that I end up bringing knowledge from one industry and connecting it with another. This works perfectly for JNI. Liz Venz, their CEO, and I are always spit-balling ideas and we’ve found that our industries complement each other.
One of our latest ideas, prompted by e-scooters that are all over London right now, is that JNI’s branded merchandise could be used by pet insurance companies to provide them with light-up collars that not only advertise their brand but also keep people’s pets safe. They can even sell these alongside their insurance packages with JNI Together, JNI’s new webstore platform. This would make buying and selling branded merchandise easy for every client. That’s an idea straight from Amazon’s playbook; they’re the kings of the upselling at the checkout. You already have the customer buying the insurance package, why wouldn’t they also want a fun talking point in the form of some, preferably eco-friendly, swag. Plus, I want one! I recently became a Dad to a German short-haired pointer (Vienna, pictured above) that I often walk around London in the dark now the days are getting shorter in the run up to Christmas.
That’s one idea Liz and I have discussed recently. Long may the association between our businesses continue and hopefully we’ll have many more ideas like it!