Certain clients seem to like the idea of “viral” but tend to not fully understand its execution. Keeping it a surprise and not revealing too much, allowing the various users to uncover things is really what makes a viral campaign successful. Passing along funny stuff works for certain brands especially the ones consumers are religious about only because its basically branded content that serves as entertainment and helps solidify the consumer loyalty but with less known brands I think there needs to be a bit of faith on the part of the client to allow the agency to really build a mystery and let the users uncover what it is they are trying to say.
Collaboration is really what the web is all about and the ability for users to pass along something interesting and discuss it, analyze it and play with it is where the success is found in a true viral initiative. Many clients want to simply PLUG IN whatever it is they have into a viral campaign and many times they don’t realize that they are trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Viral campaigns are often looked at as a less serious endeavor because it does cost less and people tend to pay more attention to projects that cost more to develop. Take viral seriously and it will serve its purpose.