06/25/2007 11:29 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Viral Attempts are Getting Annoying

Boring, and a bit greasy. That's my reaction to the viral video attempt I just watched, this one for Cisco Systems. I'm still not sure what they're pitching but after six days and some expensive advertising placements their grand total of only 22,000 views might mean others agree.

Ah, viral video. Dove"s Evolution Film continues to be the benchmark, gathering over eight million views and a Cannes Grand Prix award in the viral advertising category since its launch last fall. Sunsilk gathered nine million views -- and huge potential backlash -- with their Bridezilla video before it was revealed as a hoax and pulled. Since then interactive marketing managers at agencies everywhere have been faced with the same request from excited clients: "Can you make us a viral video?" The question now is, are you sure you want one?

Here's the latest: "Businessman has a very painful meltdown. All caught on tape." Sounds promising and granted, the video is pretty funny. A big guy in a suit freaks out in a hotel lobby over a botched meeting. Problem is, we've been duped before. We start looking for clues that it's not a real freakout. Hmm ... professional sound quality and perfect multiple camera angles in a hotel lobby? Security standing by quietly while an irate guest smashes things? Not likely.

Granted, those with enough patience can hit the link at the end, click through an interactive video, and eventually find out it's all about Cisco. By that time if we're still around we're probably more annoyed -- not a wallet-opening emotion -- than entertained.

We accepted being duped once by Bridezilla. Maybe the backlash even helped sell product. But I can't help wonder if the advertising industry's "viral at all costs" goals and "any publicity is good publicity" mantras have reached an end.