We all remember the crazes of our childhood - the Hula Hoop, Space Hoppers, Raleigh Choppers, etc. Remember the TV series Fame? It kicked off in America in the summer of 1982, and that winter legwarmers were the Christmas craze in Britain.
Nowadays, a craze can start in the back of beyond, and thanks to the internet, it's a nationwide craze the next day. There was a great demonstration of this in June when someone discovered the explosive combination of Diet Coke and Mentos. Immediately, kids all over the country were filming themselves trying it out, and uploading the results to community video sharing sites such as YouTube. Check out some of the better examples here and here. As the month went on, everyone was at it. Then, those clever guys at EepyBird, mixed 200 litres of Diet Coke and 500 Mentos producing a stunning work of video art.
Now, Mentos have embraced it (they may even have been responsible for the Eepybird video). They've launched a competition and their own YouTube Group, there's the PepsiGirl viral ad based on it, and the MythBusters on Discovery Channel are doing a piece on it.
It's a great example of the power of the internet and the reality of active web communities. It also poses a great challenge to the marketing community to keep abreast of such fast evolving trends. Mentos quick reaction to embrace this (potentially dangerous) craze is balsy, and a great example of marketeers with their finger on the pulse, understanding the medium and reacting quickly. It's rare, believe me.
I've got lots to say on this subject, and it will be a major topic on this blog. Stay tuned.