Talking with the hip, edgy interactive marketing kids [that many agencies/companies think are the future of marketing], the common thread seems to be exasperation with "viral." As in, suits talking in the abstract that the company needs "something viral."
I also hear stories of agencies foolishly promising clients 100,000 or more hits on the viral Web site they're pushing out. I know clients want results, but no one knows what will stick, what won't.
A friend forwarded me a link to a new campaign for Office Max. It's totally viral, dude, with Web sites like Reindeer Arm Wrestling and Elf Yourself. Save for interspersed product placements and branding on the bottom-right corner, it has nothing to do with the stodgy office supplier company.
And they probably think that's a good thing.
Because kids will be like, "Wow, these cats dig my lifestyle. I like arm-wrestling with reindeer. Let's go buy all our rave equipment at Office Max."
I find dubious claims that these viral-for-viral-sake things ever really pay dividends. Here's an AdWeek take on Subservient Chicken. Even those who enjoy reindeer boxing or whatever are never going to remember who created the sites. When it comes to brand recognition, I don't believe these campaigns truly provide value.
I came across these ads from a friend, who sends me PR/marketing-type stuff. When I asked him if I could post about it, he said sure.
I double-checked, making sure he wouldn't get in trouble for sending to a journalist.
"Sure - i don't own Office Depot."