When an amateur video showing the explosive nature of Mentos candies when mixed with carbonated beverages hit the Internet and spawned hundreds of copycats, the company knew it had to capitalize on the unsolicited notoriety. But instead of trusting to the masses, the company decided to release its own brand of viral marketing. So they went to a Cincinnati advertising agency where they met Jim Clair, a 2005 graduate with a degree in electronic media.
“Mentos wanted something that was a little more branded toward them that they could predict would take off just as well,” Clair says. “That was the problem … all the videos were being done and none were by them, so they couldn’t take credit for them.”
He suggested the idea of writing a viral video spot that could be blasted across YouTube along with
creating a Facebook account around a fictional character named Johnny Mentos, hoping to appeal to their 16- to 25-year-old audience.
Clair played writer, director, wardrobe master and casting agent for the commercial, which depicts a male student addicted to Facebook. Soon he’s failing classes and never meets new people. “Then he discovers Mentos and he’s all cool, and very successful and the girls all love him and he’s the life of the party, he dresses better, the whole thing,” Clair says.
With a crew of 11 technicians and 20 actors, he created a video that didn’t look like something a company would produce. And Clair wanted to keep it that way. “We tried to make it flow really nicely, just like it would on TV, but it was a commercial that would never ever play on TV, so you know that there’s something a little ‘off’ going on here,” he says. “It was just meant to keep people wondering and guessing, ‘Did Mentos do this?’ And I think we pulled it off pretty well.”