How NOT to do a WeChat Promotional Campaign

Matthew Brennan Case Studies

Today we bring you the story of a huge WeChat marketing fail that made Chinese national news just a few days ago. The tale of a restaurant that launched a WeChat promotional campaign that went so viral it literally put the restaurant out of business the next day.

FailAbove: The restaurant manager

So what did they do on WeChat?
On December 10th a small Korean restaurant named Wutafang (屋塔房) situated in Wenzhou city, Zhejiang province, posted an article through a locally famous WeChat account advertising their latest amazing WeChat promotional campaign:

Forward this article on your moments and collect 60 likes to win a free meal for 2-3 people worth 188 yuan. Collect 30 likes to enjoy any meal at half price. Promotion valid from December 11th to 31st!

What happened after? Thousands of people posting the article on their moments (as below), asking their friends to help them get the 188 yuan meal for free.


In little more than 2 hrs, the article received over 100,000 views! Wutafang became famous in Wenzhou overnight!


However, one of the restaurant owners explained what happened next:

“The day after launching the promotion the restaurant went out of control. Our restaurant is about 90 square meters, we can’t accommodate that many people. All our ingredients got used up.”

“Everyone was in a mess. That evening we discussed what to do and finally we decided to close. Buying new ingredients takes time, some of them we have to source again.”


The next day the restaurant was closed with this notice on the door.

Turns out the restaurant owners had no idea the WeChat promotional campaign would prove to be so popular. One of the owners, a Mr.Zhu asked for customers’ understanding.

“We were sincere in doing this promotion but we didn’t think it through. We had no intention of cheating customers. We hope everyone can forgive us. Doing business isn’t easy.”

The original promotional article on WeChat was quickly taken down due to complains from customers who were turned away.


Later a popular article emerged on WeChat estimating the amount the restaurant would have lost had the WeChat promotional campaign been allowed to continue:

“Let’s estimate the cost price for the 188 yuan meal for 2-3 people to be around 60 yuan. We also estimate that in 1 day the number of tables a restaurant of that size could be expected to handle would be approximately 150. So assuming the restaurant to be overwhelmed in the same way it was on the 1st day, the costs would be 60 x 150 = 9,000 yuan. The promotion was due to run for 18 days which puts the total costs at 162,000 yuan (approx. 25,000 USD). This doesn’t include staff, rent or any other associated costs.”