Although not a major news story in its own right, the latest online venture by global colossus Coca-Cola exemplifies a new and fast-growing marketing trend.

The venture also underscores major advertisers' realization that they can - almost overnight - link global brand messages to current consumer crazes, even though they transcend national boundaries.

Some time back in the marketing Middle Ages, around last April, teenagers around the world discovered that Perfetti Van Melle's Mentos mints and Diet Coke make a mercurial combination. When the former is dropped into a bottle of the latter, the result is a foaming geyser of liquid that spurts maybe fifteen feet high.

This is apparently not a chemical but a physical reaction [don't ask!] and is totally harmless - if somewhat dampening.

Now Coke and Dutch-Italian candy manufacturer PVM have both latched onto this potentially profitable craze and set up respective websites to cash-in.

But they have been beaten off the starting-block by other youth-oriented sites such as YouTube which feature hundreds of home-made videos illustrating the fizzy phenomenom.

All of which helps to explain why Coke last week launched its own interactive website inviting visitors to post their own video clips.

Says Coca-Cola vp for global interactive marketing Tim Kopp: "Increased broadband penetration is opening up possibilities that didn't exist even two years ago.

"Advertising can no longer be a one-sided monologue where we are always explaining what Coke is," he says. "We are trying to develop a dialogue with consumers and learn about how they interact with the brand."

However, Kopp insists the new website is intended to complement - not supplant - other forms of marketing.

"We need to recognise that online is now an important part of the overall communications mix. But we're not saying, 'let's take all our advertising off the TV and put it on the web'. We need to develop different strategies for each medium."

To view the Coke-Mentos gusher click here.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff