Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marketing Lessons From the Coke and Mentos Experiments

I was thrilled to attend my very first Maker Faire recently, and it more then exceeded my expectations. Between all the neat craft demos, solar driven couches, neon and interactive digital sound displays, toothpick man, and personalized robots, it was enough to bring out the geek in all of us.

One of the main attractions was the now infamous Coke and Mentos display, a remarkable feat of spontaneous combustion caused by the interaction of, yes, Mentos, and Diet Coke, which has that extra hint of CO2 that makes it the perfect ingredient you need to send wild arcs of soda into the sky at the moment of release. From the program guide:

"Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz are the mad scientists behind eepy bird. Fritz, the short, bearded guy, is also a professional juggler. Stephen, the tall, bald guy, is also a lawyer. In 2006 Fritz and Stephen created "Experiment #137: The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments" which became a viral video sensation."

The Eepy Bird guys are scientists from Maine who spend their days conducting all kinds of experiments, but really, after having witnesses them at the Faire, I would have to say they are more like performance artisits. Oh, and also, really good marketers. They've also been featured on Ellen
and The Today Show, so that should tell you something.

Aside from the awesome-- and I do mean awesome-- geysers of Diet Coke these guys orchestrated, they also incorporated some key marketing techniques into their show, that apply to any promotion or product offering you will ever want to sell. Here's a quick rundown:

Build Anticipation
If the guys had just launched into their demonstration without any kind of information or background, it would not have been as exciting or suspenseful. They spent nearly half an hour creating curiosity in the audience, discussing the intricacies of the experiment, and providing sneak previews of what we might expect, thereby building anticipation.

Establish Authority
Fritz and Stephen clearly established why they were the right people to be showing the demo. They had originated the experiment. The had gained social proof by getting thousands of views on YouTube. They knew from experience that diet Coke that was too cold would not produce the same dramatic effect, and that Pepsi was not preferred, as it was just plain stickier.

Know Your Audience
They knew they had a lot of kids in the audience, so they made quite a production of the fact that kids standing in a certain area would be likely to get wet. Cheers and applause! Why? Because guess what...kids love to get wet, and even for us adults, planned messes are a great stress reliever. Not to mention that we have our own inner child to please.

Sell the Experience
Fritz and Stephen heightened the experienced by not only adding musical accompaniment to the event, but timing the fountains to the music. They also added drama to the event by using several hundred bottles of Coke, as well as 500 Mentos!

Empower Others
They announced that they had recently put together a kit for purchase, so that you too could create these exciting experiments at home. This made us feel part of the experience, and more like participants, not only observers. So, we had a vested interest in watching...we wanted to get it right when we tried it at home, to amaze our families and friends.

These guys really thought through how to make their ideas a business model. Not only do they get paid for appearances, but their online store features the at home kit, cool t-shirts, and DVD's.

I may not try the Mentos experiment at home, but I got a great marketing lesson to keep in mind, next time I want to build a little fizz -- I mean, buzz.

How about you, how do you build your buzz?


Allen Bates said...

Thank you very much for sharing these techniques. I'll be sure to try them as well.
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Mr.Filbert. Hutchison said...

That's really a great marketing strategy. Thanks.
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Len Sandler said...

This is a great way to get the people involved with the product, thank you very much for sharing this idea.
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Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment, Len!

Theodore Smith said...

I love your blog and I keep coming back to it. Knowing your target market is very important with out it you wouldn't know which market to tap. Thanks.
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JospehSchaffer said...

"Sell the Experience" is definitely a key in making your brand and posts viral. An interesting niche would find a safe haven in the internet, wherein people are constantly finding things that would entertain them.

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Brad G said...
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