It’s been roughly 25 or so years since the spread of the urban legend of Pop-Rocks and coke. It was once believed that if you mixed the two delicious products it might cause an internal explosion that would blow your head off! I remember being in the 3rd grade and opening up my garbage pal kids cards on the playground, sipping on a coke and being warned by all my peers not to eat those cherry pop-rocks and drink my coke"¦ or else. But being the 3rd grade bad boy that I was, I just had to take that chance and prove myself in front of the Mrs. Cadwallider and all my future high school ex’s. I took that pack of pop-rocks, tilted it ever so slightly in my mouth and then grabbed for my Coke like a gunslinger reaching for his piece"¦I poured that Coke in my mouth while a drop of perspiration inched down my face, I was nervous, I thought this could be it and my short life would be over too soon. Thoughts of my poor mom raced through my head. But we know how this story ends, nothing happened except for a fireworks display of exploding candy down your throat and some great belches from the Coke.
Today’s kids have an even more exciting trick and its not pop-rocks and Coke, but Mentos "The fresh maker" and Diet Coke. Interesting that Coke is at it once again, this time with Mentos. The phenomenon that is sweeping across the internet is the chemical reaction that occurs when you drop a pack of Mentos into a 2 Liter bottle of Diet Coke. The reaction is truly amazing and stupefying. A volcanic eruption of Diet Coke ensues that reaches heights of almost 20 feet! The amateur videos of people performing this stunt are hilarious and irreverent. Check out eepybird.com, where 215,000 people have visited since the beginning of the month, to witness the outrageous performance of this simple chemistry experiment.
Perfetti Van Melle, the Italian candy maker of Mentos estimates that there are 1,000 or so amateur videos virally spreading around the internet and have generated $10 million dollars of free advertising for Mentos! Coke wasn’t very impressed at first with this "explosion" of attention towards their product, but given the Pop-Rocks urban legend and the damaging effect it caused on their product, who can blame them if they wanted to stay away from this one. Recently, Coke has retracted a bit from their initial stand-backish attitude and is now embracing the viral buzz.
Millions of savvy consumers are visiting Google video (1.1 million people last week) and Youtube.com (4.9 million people last week) every month and seem to be very open and receptive to watching entertaining clips, even if they are branded with a product. Marketers need to think outside the box and look at this example of viral marketing as a benchmark for future campaigns, even if this was just a coincidence. Let’s hope that Mentos and Coke team up to capitalize on a terrific marketing idea and create fresh new commercials that are entertaining, social and engaging. These two companies couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off to summer sales, just check out this next video and make sure you have a change of clothes before you perform this stunt at home or on the playground.