Hundreds of videos are popping up all over the internet of an interesting experiment involving Diet Coke. Apparently, when you drop a Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke, the chemical reaction results in a geyser shooting up to 20-feet in the air. For months people have been shooting videos of this experiment, with the most famous being at eepybird.com. As of last Friday, this video had been viewed over 800,000 times.
The interesting part of this story is the reaction that Mentos and Coke have had to their products being featured in these community-produced videos. Mentos' reaction? "We are tickled pink by it," says Pete Healy, vice president of marketing for the company's U.S. division.
As for Coke? "It's an entertaining phenomenon," said Coke spokeswoman Susan McDermott. "We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it.". She adds that the "craziness with Mentos ... doesn't fit with the brand personality" of Diet Coke.
Let me repost what I said in Part 2 of my 'Marketing With Your Community' series:
I prefer to think that our goal as marketers is to clear a path for the consumer. The consumer will eventually reach their destination with or without us, but the value we bring to the equation is to help the consumer reach their destination as effectively as possible. We can't clear a path if the consumer is leading us. And if we get too far ahead of the consumer, we lose the ability to accurately anticipate their path.
So we walk with the consumer. If the consumer leads, our ability to clear their path is diminished, which doesn't serve the best interest of the consumer. If the marketer leads, then our ability to understand the consumer is diminished, which means our ability to understand which path they will take is lessened. And that's not in their best interest either. It also doesn't help us.
Mentos is walking WITH their community, Coke is trying to lead them. Mentos found out about how the community was enjoying their product, and now they are considering offering a marketing deal to the men responsible for the most elaborate, and popular video. The company values the online buzz for Mentos at 'Over 10 million'.
On the flipside, Coke is telling their community to stop playing (enjoying) with Diet Coke, and start drinking it.
Mentos is clearing a path for their community, Coke is trying to lead their's.
Guess which company will be the winner here?