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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Why Coke Isn’t It Any More

What do you get if you mix Mentos mint candies and Diet Coke? A. a science experiment B. a liquid mess C. a marketing coup For Mentos, at least, the answer is a resounding C. Thus begins an article in today’s Wall Street Journal describing what, for any ordinary consumer products company, would be a chance to jump on the hottest trend in American popular culture—a cult web video hit—and run with it. As the article goes on to explain:

Hundreds of amateur videos have flooded the Internet in recent months showing an oddball experiment: people dropping the quarter-size Mentos candies into bottles of Diet Coke. The combination results in a geyser of soda that shoots as high as 20 feet into the air. “It’s a funny thing to do,” says Sidney Shapiro, a 26-year-old student in Israel, who posted his film on Google Video last month. Now, the folks at Mentos—a hard-shelled chewy mint candy enormously popular in Europe—are delighted. They figure the free publicity is worth “over $10 million” in the U.S. market, which amounts to more than half the company’s actual annual marketing spend here.

And Coke? Well, the folks at Coke demonstrate precisely why Coke is no longer—as its old commercials used to claim—“It.”

Despite the fact that the amateur scientists behind the 800-plus web videos of the gushing soft drink bottles have determined that for some reason Diet Coke works best, a “Coke spokesperson” told the Journal:

“We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it.” Yes, that’s right: Coke has witnessed a web-based phenomenon among precisely the target demographic that consumer products companies spend billions to reach—which might, if harnessed with an imaginative marketing campaign, help turn around a flagship product that has flat-lined in recent years…not to mention a stock price that has flat-lined since 1996.

And Coke has dismissed it out of hand.

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2006 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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