Chapter 8

Going Viral: The Web Helps Audiences Catch the Fever

Amazingly, if you toss a Mentos candy into a bottle of Diet Coke, you get a marketing explosion. More tangibly, the mint-cola reaction triggers a geyser that sprays 10 feet or more. This phenomenon was popularized in video experiments produced by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz1 on their eepybird site. After their initial success, Grobe and Voltz made a video of an extreme experiment to answer the following question: “What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints?” Web audiences were mesmerized by the result—it's insane—and caused a classic viral phenomenon. In only three weeks, 4 million people viewed the video. Hundreds of bloggers wrote about it. Then mainstream media jumped in, with Grobe and Voltz appearing on Late Night with David Letterman and The Today Show.

Imagine the excitement in Mentos marketing offices when the videos took off online—millions of Mentos exposures at no cost (more on this later). The price tag to get results like that from traditional marketing might have totaled tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.

Minty-Fresh Explosive Marketing

For marketers, one of the coolest things about the web is that when an idea takes off, it can propel a brand or company to fame and fortune for free. Whatever you call it—viral, buzz, or word-of-mouse marketing—having other people tell your story drives action. Many viral phenomena start innocently. Somebody creates something—a ...

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