In 2006 when the viral video craze was relatively new, the duo posted a video of Experiment #137, otherwise known at the Diet Coke and Mentos geyser, on-line and it quickly became a viral video sensation. Since then they’ve held the Guinness World Record for 1,360 Diet Coke geysers being set off at the same time in Belgium and picked up another major sponsor with 3M’s Post-It Notes after the success of the “Extreme Sticky Notes Experiments” video, which won them their second Webby award.

I was lucky enough to arrive at the EepyLab the same day that an advertising agency had met with Grobe and Voltz; their Eepybird Museum was still set up for viewing. Their individual histories as well as material and media from their Eepybird venture was impressive to say the least. The duo is currently working to create the Eepybird brand and are pursuing more interactive advertising. Above all else, they say they strive for authenticity in what they do.

They currently have 22 experiments in the works, with six nearly ready to film. At least one of them, according to their most recent Webby Award acceptance speech, will require the use of a helmet, but they wouldn’t share anything more specific than that. They did say that if you want to get a preview of upcoming experiments or learn more about Eepybird, you should visit the Celebration Barn in South Paris this summer. There will be an Eepybird presentation by Grobe and Voltz on Friday, Aug. 7. And starting in September they will be back at the Oddfellow Theater in Buckfield for the Early Evening Show.

When you posted the first viral video of the Diet Coke and Mentos geysers, did you anticipate that you would be where you are now?

Grobe: We never dreamed that the reaction would be what it was.

Voltz: We thought it was a pretty cool video and it might get some attention, but we had no idea how crazy it was going to become.

Where do you find the inspiration for the experiments?

Grobe: The niche that we have is exploring how everyday objects can do extraordinary things. Our job is to play, all day. It’s all about “today I did something I never did before,” and not just that but something I never conceived of before.

Voltz: It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens regularly and that’s the good part. We know that if we spend enough time upstairs working, we’ll get those moments.

Any mishaps?

Grobe: One of our first live performances was in Istanbul, Turkey, in a nightclub. They had sealed one end of the club in plastic where we set up 100 bottles of Diet Coke. We started setting up and discovered they had stored the soda in an unheated warehouse and it had snowed the night before.

Voltz: We didn’t realize how much of a difference it would make.

Grobe: We tested it and the geysers were going two, three inches, so we frantically had all the crew moving all the soda next to the hot air registers and turn the heat way up. In 20 minutes we got all the soda warmed up and everything went fine.

So, what is “branding” all about?

Voltz: We now have a company, and we’re working with major sponsors. So, the branding process was to figure out how we should be defining our brand and what should it look like.

Grobe: We need clearer consciousness of how we’re selling ourselves to potential sponsors, so we’re working with Rink Advertising on that. This third viral video hit, “Sticky Notes,” is huge for us as a business, because now we’ve shown we’re more than just the Diet Coke and Mentos guys. To be able to create something fun, and then win the Webby Award — we were up against the big Madison Avenue ad agencies, and we showed we could compete with the best in the world.

Voltz: The other thing that’s cool for me is that, we’ll do the right thing by the sponsors if what we focus on is that everyone has a good time.

What did you think of Post-it Note maker Art Fry’s reaction to the Extreme Sticky Note Experiment?

Voltz: It was cool to see his live reaction to it, without any pressure, because he could have said “This is kind of boring.” We weren’t there, so he didn’t have to make it sound good for us.

Grobe: He was tickled and that was wonderful.

Do your performances here and abroad differ?

Voltz: We didn’t talk a lot (in the videos), we just did the performance. It works in Japan just like it works in Saudi Arabia or wherever, because it’s not verbal. The shows, the crowds, are almost the same.

Grobe: The response we get is phenomenal; it’s staggering. It’s a true rock star moment. The biggest crowd we had was in Paris; we had 15,000 people at the foot of Montparnasse tower, the tallest building in Paris. It was indescribable. But for me the satisfaction is performing for one person and performing for 15,000 people in exactly the same way.

Voltz: There’s no distinction between those shows except for logistical things here and there, it’s the same.

Where do you think viral videos and interactive advertising is headed?

Grobe: We did the Diet Coke and Mentos thing three years ago and that was the beginning of on-line video; broadband was just coming into everyone’s house. Suddenly you could have a video on-line and actually see it. Now there’s something like 20 hours of video being uploaded to Youtube every minute. It’s unbelievable how much it’s changed in three years. What hasn’t changed is that a creative idea still gets people’s attention. We really focus on finding something different, showing everyday objects and everyday people. You just need your creative idea, your obsession — what is it you are excited about? What is it you are interested in?

Voltz: We wanted to do a piece that had some integrity to it, and it would be fun and artists would like it, for all of those reasons. Turns out that sells products. Coke sales really spiked and Mentos sales went through the roof.

What’s the Eepybird connection?

Grobe: We’ve ended up as the public faces of Eepybird because of the Diet Coke and Mentos videos. We started Eepybird because of the Oddfellow Theater and the incredible performing community that there is here in Buckfield, and for these people to put their videos on-line to reach a larger audience. Our creative team includes four different performers who have been to the White House, all living right around here. We do a show about every other month at the Oddfellow Theater called The Early Evening Show with Mike Michlon, and that has been our testing ground for all these crazy ideas.

How did you end up experimenting this way?

Voltz: It’s looking around the room, the grocery store, Home Depot or the hardware store — it’s a lot of trial and error, but then you learn as you do it.

Grobe: It takes an inordinate amount of patience. My background is in the circus. I have five gold medals at the International Juggling Championship, and in the circus you don’t think twice about spending three years to get 10 seconds of something you think is going to be really extraordinary. This requires that same kind of patience.

What do you hope people take away from seeing your videos and performances?

Grobe: One of our big messages is “try this at home.” What Eepybird is all about, is we want people exploring their world. We want people picking up a pad of sticky notes and finding out what it does.

Voltz: Or picking up something we haven’t thought of and finding out what it does that we haven’t discovered yet.

Grobe: It’s all about that exploration, that do-it-yourself and look at your world in a new way.

Voltz: The more we do things like sticky notes and with soda and candy, the more everyone will realize that, hey, all of the cool things in life are right here around me. You should do it, not just your kids. Seeing it on a video is cool, but doing it yourself it’s like “Oh my god, it really works.” (Both men caution to make sure to use room temperature soda for maximum results. They also advise NOT trying this in a car or anywhere else indoors that hasn’t been set up to protect surfaces from a mess).

*Want to try the experiment yourself? Diet Coke/Mentos geyser kits are available for purchase at eepybird.com by selecting the “Store” option from the menu at the left.


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