Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Strategy

The Awesome Power of Family in Social Media Storytelling

In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to write a post about the power of family in social media storytelling. And as you sit down to whatever celebration you embrace, think about the videos below and what they evoke within you.

But first, remember that the goal isn’t to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media. Social is just a conduit. But for what?

Sometimes, it’s a conduit to anthropomorphize your business, attaching to it human characteristics like empathy, humor, and spontaneity. Humanization creates kinship between your company and its customers. And that bond drives purchase behavior and advocacy. We want to do business with what we know, like, and trust. Social media can be used to increase the degree to which we know, like, and trust companies. Even delicatessens.

Chompie’s Deli is an institution in Phoenix (where I lived for 15 years, and where both of my children were born). Over more than 30 years Chompie’s has become “Arizona’s New York Deli.” But Metro Phoenix is a curious place. Almost no residents over the age of 25 are from Phoenix. Everyone arrived from somewhere else, trying to start fresh and take advantage of hyper-growth, good weather (most of the time), and inexpensive real estate. Consequently, Phoenix has approximately zero reverence for its past. New is cool. Old is mold. It’s not the land that time forgot, it’s the land that ignores time.

The zeal for what’s new – sometimes at the exclusion of what’s actually good – is palpable in the region, and that attitude can be less than ideal for an institution like Chompie’s.

Humanization. With Real Humans

Enter Chompie’s Marketing Director Peggy Baker, and Shane Malach, grandson of the still-active founders, Lou and Lovey Borenstein. According to Peggy, to know Lou and Lovey is to know Chompie’s. As the company expanded to four locations, Peggy realized that many customers had lost the connection between the founders and the business.

We set out showcase what (aside from the food) really makes Chompie’s….Chompie’s. The personality traits that describe Lou and Lovey (New Yorker, quirky, original, genuine, family-oriented, authentic, big on personality, approachable, hospitable) are also how you can describe Chompie’s.

To humanize the restaurants and rekindle the brand in the imagination of current and future customers, Chompie’s turned to NYC film/video production company Smuggler (where Shane works) to produce a series of four of the most amazing, delightful, memorable and fantastic videos I’ve ever watched.

See “How We Wed
See “How Chompie’s Got Its Name
See “An Egg Cream Story

The More You Sell, The Less You Sell

What I love about these videos is that they don’t devolve into promotions-based drivel. There’s no coupon. There’s no “35th Anniversary Special”. There’s not even a call-to-action. Keeping the videos devoid of promotions was a specific creative decision, according to co-director Tristan Higgs:

The idea was to create something that inherently can build love for Chompie’s by building love for Lou and Lovey. Why mess with that by promoting something at the end? It felt too gratuitous and explicit to do that.

The directors got a first-hand feel for Borenstein family, staying with daughter Wendy (Shane’s mother) when in Phoenix for the shoot. And indeed, all the videos were filmed at Lou and Lovey’s home, with all the accoutrements that belong to them (including a sizable wolf memorabilia collection).

Co-director Catherine Rehwinkel says the videos were inspired by When Harry Met Sally, as well as Errol Morris’ early work, including Vernon, Florida (my second favorite movie) and Gates of Heaven. Says Catherine:

We wanted to keep it simple, and let them be the star. Lou and Lovey were not prepped at all. What you see is the real them. We did edit carefully to make sure we didn’t tip from “endearing” to “mean spirited”.

Not every business has Lou and Lovey. But every business has a story to tell. And many businesses have a family story to tell. Are you telling it yet?