The incoming calls – 5 outstanding WeChat viral campaigns

Tingyi Chen WeChat guides & tips, WeChat news

Dare to pick up the call from a stranger? HTML5 viral campaigns pretending to be an incoming call are the most eye catching viral campaigns of this year.

Here is 5 amazing “incoming call campaigns” you can draw inspiration from for your own branding.

Case 1: The unexpected entrance of Wu Yifan

Viral score: ★★★★★

Product: Game

Target: Young audience who plays mobile games

Success factor: several layers of surprise keep users engaged
At first glance, this campaign looks nothing different from a Tencent news gossiping about a young celebrity joining the army. But this sophisticated campaign will in fact use several layers of “surprise” to keep users engaged. The video in the article automatically launches itself and starts talking to the user. Yifan then exits the screen and seems to be standing in front of it. Soon after, he literally tears-off the WeChat wall to reveal a green screen.


But this is only the beginning of the campaign. Soon after, a fake Facetime calls comes in and users can pick it up to see the celebrity speaking with them and inviting them to download a game. The call is extremely realistic, down to the ringtone and the red “hang up” button appearing for a few seconds when you click the screen.


The multiple layers of interactivity serve a double purpose: they enable the users to digest a longer message by keeping the attention over a long time span. They also greatly increase the probability of users sharing the campaign on their moments because of its innovative conversion path.

Scan this QR code to see the campaign


Case 2: Incoming call from a stranger

Viral score: ★★★★★

Product: Dianping’s promotion for discounted Avenger 2 movie tickets

Target: General audience who are interested at movies

Success factor: First widely distributed campaign using the “incoming call” method

Although this campaign doesn’t aim to be as realistic as the previous one, the Avenger Age of Ultron campaign was pioneer in using the “fake incoming call” trick to attract virality. It start with an incoming call from a unknown number…


Once you pick it up, your phone screen starts to break under the signature attacks of several of the Avengers heroes.



Finally, the “Ultron AI” appears and suggests users to move to a cinema to continue the experience. The page directly links to Dianping movie booking system.


Once again, the incoming call is used to surprise user and gives space for a large amount of storytelling which would be otherwise difficult through the short screen and attention-span on WeChat.

Scan this QR code to access campaign


Case 3: A recoding machine incoming call

Viral score: ★★★★

Product: Hudong entertainment platform

Target: General audience

Success factor: customised personal message

This campaign takes customisation to a new level, you can record a voice message and send it to friends and family. The message will automatically create a “fake phone call” with a caller name that you specified.

The campaign also includes pre-recoded voice messages you can send as well to trick the recipient.


Personalisation is another secret ingredient for making a message sharable. The campaign also makes great use of the WeChat API and JavaScript SDK in order to enable user authentication, get nickname and enable users to directly record messages via the web-APP.

Scan the QR code to view the campaign


Case 4: I am Chen Kun

Viral score: ★★★

Product: a non-profit campaign encouraging users to submit ideas related to travel

Target: General audience

Success factor: Simply the voice of a celebrity, and a little twist if users don’t pick-up

This is a non-profit campaign. Starting with a call from a celebrity makes this campaign much more appealing for users to click and view the HTML5 website.


Interestingly, this campaign takes a different positioning with a screen mimicking Android OS. It also feels much less efficient than the Yifan campaign as the call is the sole specificity of this campaign. Comparing the two HTML5 websites shows the different between a good and a great idea: Yifan’s H5 has a much faster and steady pace, each few seconds bringing a new surprise. This last campaign ends up looking very banal in comparison.

A little detail still makes it worth noticing: if users choose not to pick-up the “fake call”, the campaign sends them a fake WeChat message from the celebrity complaining that they are not picking up the phone, before redirecting to the same “swiping website”.

Scan the QR code to view the campaign


Case 5: Dating Game

Viral score: ★★★★

Purpose: promotion for Baidu Tieba

Target: Male audience

Success factor: User enters a “dating roleplaying game” and needs to make the right choices to end up becoming the girl’s boyfriend.

A cute girl in school uniform Facetime you mistakenly, what will you do?

A. Ask her out.
B. Reject and get a call from another girl

If you choose to pick-up the phone, you are then taken through a series of videos. After each video, you are asked a new question: “the girl refused to give you her number, will you leave or ask for her WeChat?” (the game suggests you should ask for her WeChat. But actually no. Don’t be a bully. Move on.)


Beside its sexist undertones, the campaign is adding a new element to these “incoming call campaigns”: uncertainty. As you keep answering the questions, you are taken through a story with this girl you just met and whom you are striving to stay with. Eventually, the game ends and you are suggested to share the campaign with your friends or join Baidu Tieba (a forum and content platform by Baidu promoted by the campaign)

A second layer of randomness is linked to the fact that as you scan the QR code multiple times, you will be “introduced” to different girls and will enter different roleplaying stories.

Scan the QR code to see how the story unfolds



The most successful viral marketing campaign on social media are not focused on the brand. The focus should be the user, and how to engage the user in a meaningful way while conveying the brand story. These campaigns achieve this outcome very successfully: they use the “incoming call” method to catch attention, and then use surprise, customisation and gamification in order to maintain engagement and increase virality.

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