So Coke wasn’t a big fan of the whole Mentos thing. They couldn’t control it. They didn’t agree with the way that Diet Coke was being used. They wanted complete control over their brand and what it stands for. Here is how they responded to the whole thing (via WSJ).
"It's an entertaining phenomenon," said Coke spokeswoman Susan McDermott. "We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it." Coke could use some extra buzz right now. Sales volume of Diet Coke in the U.S. was essentially flat last year, as consumers switch from diet sodas to bottled water and other noncarbonated drinks. But Ms. McDermott says that the "craziness with Mentos ... doesn't fit with the brand personality" of Diet Coke."
But wait—Coke learned from this experience. They figured out that consumers don’t just want to “consume” products and brands—they want to get creative with them. They want an open mic. They want a platform. They want a voice, and they want to be both seen and heard.
So Coke is now giving it to them. On Coke’s terms of course. From Adweek:
“as of this week, visitors to Coke.com can take part in "The Coke Show," monthly "challenges" testing their creativity.
In the first challenge, set to run through August, users are invited to submit short videos, but they're not limited to creating ads or odes to the brand. Instead, Coke is asking for 45-second video expressions of "the essence of you." Visitors will rate submissions, culling them down to 10, which will be judged by a group of professional filmmakers.
Coke got a lesson in the power of consumer creativity with the recent hit viral video of two men creating geysers with Diet Coke and Mentos (when combined, they spark a liquid explosion). Asked about it, a Coke representative told The Wall Street Journal in June that it was "entertaining," but didn't "fit with the brand personality."
Now, Coke is giving consumers a fair amount of free rein-with boundaries. "We give the structure, we try to give the guidance, but we're looking for consumers to fill it with content that's relevant to them rather than us talking to them," said representative Andras Kallos. The site, created by independent AKQA, will roll out in 28 markets.”
And note the agency that will be working on this kind of initiative. AKQA. Not the big bloated traditional “above the line” agency. Well, the effort is not perfect—it would be nice if Coke was less controlling of their brand, but at least they are willing to acknowledge the desire for people to want to engage with brands by creating content with and for them.