As the decade turned but the scars of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting the year before still lingered, Christopher Ranch realized that Gilroy needed something to smile about again.
With people stuck in their homes as the COVID-19 outbreak grips the world, laughter and hope is needed now more than ever.
In January, Christopher Ranch launched a social media campaign that covers everything from the silly, to the serious, the educational and the just plain “WTF,” as online terminology puts it.
Ever wanted to see the ranch’s executive vice president Ken Christopher as the host of The Price is Right? Then check out the legendary game show’s probably short-lived spinoff, The Spice is Right, streaming now on Christopher Ranch’s Facebook page.
Or how about getting a garlic-themed workout in with Clovefit, starring the ranch’s spokesperson Jill Lerman?
People can also wake up to the latest garlic news with the Garlic Morning Show, led by anchors Christopher and Lerman.
Christopher said the ranch’s social media went dark following the July 28, 2019 mass shooting at the Garlic Festival. But it realized it needed to portray hope to the distraught Gilroy community, and began posting content that helped further the “Gilroy Strong” message.
“It was incredibly hard on my family, and it was devastating to the community,” said Christopher, whose grandfather Don was one of the founders of the festival. “We thought it violated something that my family has built and championed for decades.”
But around January, the message evolved.
“We realized this community needs to smile again,” Christopher said.
All of a sudden, in between the garlic recipes and Christopher Ranch history, posts of Lerman showing viewers how to do push-ups with a bag of garlic on their backs began popping up. Soon after, Christopher, rocking a muscle shirt, demonstrated how to make a garlic protein smoothie using way too much garlic, salmon and liver (spoiler: thanks to the magic of editing, Christopher didn’t actually drink the shake. But he did eat the raw egg yolk, he insists).
“We decided, let’s get out of our own skins and let’s have fun with this,” he said.
Lerman, Christopher noted, is the “consummate professional.”
“She’s willing to do anything and everything to promote California-grown garlic and my family,” he said.
The ranch also posts videos showing highlights from previous years of the Garlic Festival, meant as a lead-up to the 2020 event. While the festival has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns, the message remains the same.
“We have to remember the warmth and fun of the festival,” Christopher said.
Christopher Ranch has gone all-in on its social media. It brought on Gavilan College film instructor Tim Ahlin as its multimedia director, and has purchased a variety of professional filming and editing equipment that allows it to shoot its content in 4K high definition resolution.
The small team spends hours planning, filming and editing the movies. Previously, Christopher Ranch hired media consultants to film its videos highlighting the ranch, but having an in-house team makes the operation much more efficient, Ahlin said.
“Having an onsite team makes us versatile,” he said. “We’re able to turn a video the day of.”
Perhaps more importantly, such high-definition videos will remain with the Christopher Ranch family for generations to come.
“These are critical investments,” Christopher said. “They’re not just one-offs for social media. They will live with my family in perpetuity.”
While Lerman studied drama in London, Christopher doesn’t have much acting experience beyond some community theater performances in his childhood. But he explains his “natural talent,” as Ahlin puts it, quite simply.
“I’ve always been a big ham for the camera,” Christopher said.
To view Christopher Ranch’s social media posts, visit facebook.com/thechristopherranch or on Instagram @thechristopherranch.