Dear Marketers: YOU Don't Decide What Goes Viral

Microsoft Didn't Want One Video to Spread

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We often get ridiculous press releases from marketers or their representatives declaring they've created the hottest new viral video. Sometimes, to make it even funnier, they'll point out that it's been viewed by over 3,000 people! It's been said -- many times, many ways -- a marketer or agency DOES NOT DECIDE WHAT IS VIRAL. The audience decides what to spread. Why, a true viral video -- whether it's good or bad for a brand -- is almost like a communicable disease. Gee, do you think that might even be how the phrase "viral video" came about? I wonder.

But today, we witnessed a rare inversion of the interweb version of the viral claims. A Microsoft rep told us that the Windows 7 "Launch Party" video currently climbing our viral video chart was not an ad and wasn't intended to be viral. OK. We'll give them the "ad" part. But more than half a million people have viewed just one version of the video, so, you know, it's ... viral. Perhaps all involved should consider what happens when you put something on the web that's so laughably bad that people can't help but pass it along.

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