Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba at The Church of the Consumer Blog helps keep readers abreast of the latest in advertising and marketing. In the past couple of months, they have twice written about online campaigns in which mint-maker Mentos works with user-generated content.
Back in June, they wrote about how fans have been posting a variety of videos about how Mentos and Diet Coke can be combined. There was one video in particular in which a choreographed experiment led to a "fireworks-like display" of Mentos freshness. Such experiments were covered on an episode of the popular Mythbusters show on Discovery.
According to their story, Mentos made every effort to congratulate the experimentation, which led to free major publicity for the company, as traditional media picked up on the online distribution of the video. On the other hand, Diet Coke took a prohibitive stance, wagging its finger at the video makers for conducting experiments not true to the true nature of the Diet Coke brand, or what they call "the brand personality." They said they would rather people drink the beverage instead of participate in such "craziness."
Then, in a story a couple of weeks ago, they wrote about how Mentos has gone further with its embrace of "citizen marketers" with a contest dedicated around videos featuring the combination of Mentos and some beverage to create a geyser of flavor. After getting what they call a "free publicity tour" with the viral marketing of the Diet Coke and Mentos video, the company has built off the viral marketing push by inviting hordes of other videos through YouTube.
Here is the power of viral marketing, and it appears to be something Mentos gets and Diet Coke doesn't. Sure, giving power to the fans takes some of the power away from you, but fans are quick to notice which companies are good-natured and willing to take a little parody and fun, and which ones aren't. Does this mean that Mentos as a brand is going to skyrocket over Diet Coke based on this one incident? Of course not, especially since the Coke name has developed so much brand capital over the years. But capital is something that can be eroded and gained over time, and Mentos has gone a step further in gaining a lot of fan support for their brand as something beyond a mint candy.
In the meantime, an Internet search for Mentos finds many of the top hits about this Diet Coke phenomenon, and the "geyser" content serves not only to capitalize on making the candy company the "fresh maker" of viral marketing but also poking fun at Diet Coke for its backward thinking, by further emphasizing the issue. Even though it does not explicitly say so, the Mentos brand may gain further mileage by its being played off the parental Diet Coke, with their "thou shalt not" statement.
Thanks to Siddiq Bello for passing this along.