Who would have ever guessed that dropping MENTOS® chewy mints into a bottle of soda would produce an immense viral reaction? Steve Spangler, the pioneer of the experiment, describes the reaction as — “this generation’s reaction to vinegar and baking soda”.24
The reaction, a giant eruption of soda, is both mysterious and sensational. Although kids and teenagers have been having fun dropping candy and mints into soda to release the carbonation for years, it was Steve Spangler’s Mentos geyser video from 2005 that started the chain reaction of flying soda. This video can be found on Steve Spangler’s website (http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000109). Other sites owned by Fritz Grobe, Stephen Voltz, and EepyBird.com (www.eepybird.com) also carry the video.
The two companies responded very differently when the Mentos-Diet Coke experiment exploded on the Internet in 2006, and the media began requesting interviews.
Mentos was thrilled. In 2006, when the experiment became news, the brand was spending less than $20 million on advertising. The company estimated that the attention it was getting alone due to viral media effects alone was worth $10 million; what’s more they were getting it for free, and wanted the viral wave to continue.
Coca Cola, on the other hand, was not thrilled at the prospect of their brand being used for entertainment purposes. The company didn’t think it was right; and the company objected, for which they were roundly criticized on the web. Consumers were having fun creating their own geysers and running contests. They weren’t going to let Coke ruin their party; regardless of what the company felt was the right usage for Diet Coke.