Key Note Day2: Pete Healy, Mentos

by Marianne Richmond on December 20, 2006

 What do you think of when you hear the word Mentos?  Probably what the Wall Street Journal called, a gusher of publicity.

Or if you need more of a hint:

"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."

Well the person smart enough to see "C" is Pete Healy, the VP of Marketing for the US division of Perfetti Van Melle , better known as Mentos, USA.

On the other side of the mix was Susan McDermott from Coke who said, "It’s an entertaining phenomenon…we would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it….the craziness with Mentos … doesn’t fit with the brand personality" of Diet Coke.

As Jackie Huba said, "It’s pretty easy to tell which company spends far too much on advertising." Its also pretty easy to see who "gets" consumer generated media.

As Pete Healy tells the story, they were busy getting ready for a trade show when THE video, aka experiment #137, first went up. They didn’t have a PR agency and were just at the beginning of trying to evaluate "new," ways to market Mentos. Timing is everything.

Pete got in touch with Eepybird and the rest as they say is history. Mentos, at the end of the day, Pete says is just candy. Candy, he says is a low interest category and purchase decisions are made "in-store." It is necessary to find interesting, entetaining, quirky things to garner attention and to drive sales.

The video was Mento’s 15 minutes of fame and Pete made the most of it. When Coke realized that everyone from NPR to the Wall Street Journal were providing Mentos with the kind of buzz that money can’t buy, they decided to join in the fun. Next thing you know Coke is working alongside Mentos, Eepybird and Google Video.

Pete’s biggest challenge now he says is sustaining the momentum.

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