QUOTE(qwerty @ Jul 24 2006, 01:56 PM)
I disagree. I don't think viral marketing absolutely requires that it be emailed from person to person rather than linked to (on a web page or in an email). I'd certainly say the Subservient Chicken site was a viral campaign, and despite the apparent fact that it didn't increase sales, BK has created a number of similar sites in an effort to build buzz among a certain demographic.
It depends, I suppose, on how much of a purist one chooses to be. The original proposed meaning for viral marketing would not include simply passing on a URL.
A viral campaign is one that is spread on its own, exponentially. People tell each other about it. As such, link bait can be viral, especially if it gets to Digg or del.icio.us/popular. I don't see any reason to make the definition of "viral" so specific that it requires that the thing being marketed be the thing being spread.
Link Bait, by definition, is not viral because it is Web content. Web content, by definition, is not passed on from person to person (if it were, there would be no reason for anyone to visit Web sites).
HTML-based email has almost bridged the gap between (static) Web content and viral marketing. People could, theoretically, design some very complex HTML emails and send them out to friends as sort of "sales brochures", asking the friends to pass them on.
That's similar to what some phishing/spoofing schemes do now with their fake warnings.