It's Spreadable Marketing, Not Viral.
In a New York bar last month, a (non-media) university friend of his asked the rest of the table to explain what Faris actually did - apart from use very long words that she didn't understand? We laughed, he pled guilty and we continued drinking.
This month, he's written an excellent post derived from his own thinking and his attendance of MIT's Future Of Entertainment conference. It gives us the simple language with which to clarify what viral marketing really is.
What we mean when something goes 'viral' is that LOTS OF PEOPLE CHOOSE TO PROPAGATE IT. It requires people to do something. Voluntarily. For their own reasons. It is not simply a new way to broadcast our messages through populations. It suggests we push, when in fact they pull
In other words, it's not interruptive advertising. As Henry Jenkins said at the conference, it's much more about gifting and
you don't put a catalog in a gift! That's gauche advertising. And viral advertising is basically this: "here's free media, give it into your friends as a gift, also it includes advertising!"
That doesn't work because, as Douglas Rushkoff said
"People don't engage with each other to exchange viruses; people exchange viruses as an excuse to engage with each other."
This is where marketing is going. This is where it has to go.