MissRogue does her usual Come-From-Left-Field bit and explains why she takes extreme positions when discussing traditional and viral marketing. Well worth a read.
At the risk of being more extreme than Tara (as if that’s possible :-) ), I don’t think there is any middle ground on this.
Marketing is now about customers co-creating product, recommending to their network, making these recommendations independently yet subjectively, based on a personal experience of a product’s usefulness.
I don’t think this can be gamed. The cost of discovery-of-quality-or-usefulness is now so low that no amount of marketing money or strategy can apply enough lipstick to porcine products. And any attempt to apply said lipstick is likely to backfire and contaminate other products belonging to the same brand or stable.