My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, BBC version, homepage version) examines the enormous success of a video mixing Diet Coke and Mentos (which through a quirk of chemistry, sparks an immediate chemical reaction – a beverage geyser spurting several metres into the sky). Released for free on the Internet in early June, the video has attracted an audience of millions and has become a commercial success story. Filmed with a US$300 budget, it has already generated nearly US$30,000 in advertising revenue for the two creators. has generated millions of viewers and $30,000 in revenue for the creators.
I argue that the Mentos success story may sound like a fluke, it is better understood as part of a growing trend toward innovative online video distribution models, the majority of which operate outside traditional broadcast regulation. The column discusses many of these including Revver, YouTube, Google Video, Machinima, vlogging and the efforts of conventional broadcasters. The end-result is an incredible array of video choices where established, professional productions compete with inexpensive, amateur creations for audiences and advertising dollars. In this environment, it isn’t the power of broadcasters, big-budgets or technological controls that determine the winners. All it takes is a little candy, some soda, and a lot of creativity.