[Interview] How to make your WeChat H5 campaign viral?

Tingyi Chen WeChat news

You might have already seem these WeChat HTML5 (H5) campaigns shared on your WeChat Moment:

  • Incoming call from Avengers to promote for the movie service of Dianping. Record breaking 2,000,000 page view in first 6 hours.


  • A viral video introducing an imaginary application called APPmixer. It can can combined any of the two Apps of your choice, for example, Uber + Didi Dache; Baidu map + Momo; Meituxiuxiu + Ele.me.  And lastly, a combination of all the application on your phone to create a Dianping App where you can eat everything for free, a promotion by Dianping.  This video got 10,000,000 Baidu search volume; 5,000,000 view of the video; several WeChat account re-share this video got 100,000+ page view. This video wins “best of show awards” in the One Show great China and the grand prize of China Advertising Greatwall awards.

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  • Only one word between us. This WeChat H5 campaign created 3,000,000 page view in the first 3 days, and it brings more than a hundred copycat within one month of its launch.


  • Eating campaign for promoting Dianping’s restaurant review and booking service20150519113702_49590
  • What’s color is youth?  A New Balance H5 campaign focused on the young Chinese


  • Nine step quiz about movie to promote the Chinese movie star Jiang Wen姜文.



  • 3 set of 10-second video promoting Dianping’s 9RMB meal deal.

  • Love letter from Mr Shoucao. This is the first successful HTML5 campaign with a lot of content and characters. It got more than 1,000,000 in the first week of its launch. The life span of this campaign is 1.5 years (vs. normal campaign only has 2-day life span).


  • New Balance video that focused on the Chinese middle class, young population. This video got 4,000,000 views; news reports and online debates around the controversial video style.

What do these WeChat H5 campaign have in common?

These WeChat H5 campaign are all made by the marketing agency: W.

W is a young agency, it has only been existing for 1 year. W is small, it has only 26 employees. But if you look at it’s works, W is a revolutionary creative agency. Here is the 15 works produced by W:


WeChat H5 campaign

Each WeChat H5 campaign is distinctive, new, and VIRAL.  For example, W is the first one to use the “incoming call” campaign, before this idea become an “industry standard” in making H5 campaign. The APPmixer campaign got a lot of second re-share.  “Love letter from Mr Shou Cao” campaign is still being used 1.5 years after its launch, while a normal H5 campaign’s life span of 2 days.

How did W do it?

Today, we interview the founder of W, Li Sanshui (李三水), to find out what made W so productive in creating viral WeChat H5 campaign.

WalktheChat (WTC): Can you introduce yourself?

Sanshui (W): Before W, I had a lot of entrepreneurship experience: I had 1 video production company, 2 advertising company, and I have been working in marketing agencies like W+K. I was in business with book store, restaurant, clothing factories, Chinese medicine factory…  

WTC: Why did you create W?

 W: After all these “detours” in entrepreneurship, W was created naturally. Advertising, among all other industries, is the one industry where you can really leverage creativity. You have to use your experience and judgement to do advertising. It’s like searching for solutions and methods used across industries and combining them.

WTC: Why do people call you guys Wild Dog (野狗)? 

W: Our nickname is W.  Wild dog represent a different spirit: creatures which survive outside of the civilized circle.  Unlike the domestic dogs, we do not want to be petted or ordered around by our clients, we want to think like the client. W is not defined by one set direction, rather we want to be “a company with the mindset of Party A (the client)”. 

WTC: Would this means a lot of compromise from the client’s side?

W: To give you an example, if a customer goes to a restaurant and order something that’s not on the menu: fried rice with eggs.  A good restaurant would make the fried rice, maybe with different combinations, different flavors. In the end, it will still be fried rice.

But when a customer goes into the “W” restaurant, we will not make the fried rice as we were asked to. We will not ask the client what do you want to order, rather: why do you want to eat? Why do you want to order fried rice with egg? Is it the right dish for you? What kind of flavors do you like the best? An we will serve them another dish that the customer really wants to eat.  

When we sit with a client, we do not sell them what they ask for.  Rather we will sit down with the senior decision makers to really understand their business model, strategy, and how do they make decisions.  The way we work is to talk about business and really try to understand the business, rather than just to making an advertising campaign.  

WTC: What is the difference between doing marketing campaign in China and in the western countries? 

W: The principle is the same: to promote product.  But the way to do it and the execution method is different, although the quality level is getting closer and closer. The biggest different is the advertising channel. In China it’s all about WeChat, in Western cultures, you cannot make a campaign viral just through WeChat. 

WTC: What is the culture of W? What is it that makes you guys so creative? 

W: When you look at our works, you might see a lot of diversity, something new and very artistic, you might think this is the culture of W. But in fact, it’s the opposite. We are very cautious (严谨), logical and focused on solving problems.  When you think of advertising companies, what they usually do is they are the executor.  They are given a problem, and they will package it beautifully and push to the market. Advertising companies follow orders.  What we are focused on is  solving problems. In W, we will make sure that everyone really understand the project, the strategy behind it and purpose of the WeChat H5 campaign.  You cannot measure creativity, but you can measure what is right and what is wrong. This way, we rarely get lost with ideas because we are always focused on solving problems. 

WTC: how do you train your employee?  

W: The motto of our company is “本能心、思无邪、当面说” (translated in English is: the heart follows instinct, the mind is pure, speak straight forwardly). And we like to sit in a group and have intense discussion focused on just one thing: solving problem. 


WTC: How do you judge if an idea will be viral on WeChat moments?

W: I don’t. I only make judgement to see if the idea fits the brand. It’s like singing.  When an artist sings a song, he/she ask whether or not people would like this song, because each person have different preferences, the 20 year olds will certainly like music that is different from what’s liked by the 40 year olds.  What the artist really thinks about is whether this song really matches him/her, if this song can convey meaning of this artist’s personal brand. Only if the song and the artist fit, then the song will get viral.  It’s the same with marketing, we are only focused on making WeChat H5 campaigns that truly fits the brands’ image or rather an image that the brand would like to become. 

(end of the interview)

What can you learn from W when running WeChat H5 campaign?

 Can you replicate what W has done and use it for your own company? It’s difficult to replicate the artworks, the creative content, and video production skills. What brands can do is:

  • Study the successful cases and try the same conversion path. For example, the incoming call from Avengers is a good campaign method to increase the interaction between users and the campaign.
  • Make connection with your audience.  For example, the New Balance video is not the usual “happy, young and energetic” style that Chinese people are used to coming from a sport brand. The video is made from the point of an average girl who struggles with life, emotions, and love and finally walks out from the dark side.  This kind of approach from “real life” is lacked in the Chinese advertising industry.
  • Give emotional incentive for sharing.  Tencent prohibits monetary incentivized sharing campaign, but brands can find the emotional/social inventive of why a user share a campaign.  For example, from a technical point of view, A love letter from Mr. Shoucao is simply a slider. But what made this campaign have such a long life span (1.5 years) is it how it matches the users’ emotional desire: a husband would want to share this with his wife to show appreciation.
  • Event for W, it takes a lot of try to get one campaign viral. W made 6 campaigns for Dianping, and only 2 of them (Incoming call, APPmixer) got really viral.  Brands should try making campaign with different styles to test what is your users really like. You can design a campaign to be viral, but you can never be sure.
  • Be aware of the risk you take for making viral marketing campaign. See our post what are the risk of viral marketing campaign or detail.

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