Introducing a new, cheap media space: the out of office auto-reply

Not a lot of people realise how much fun there is to be had with the humble out of office auto-reply. I (lol) was startingly reminded of what an unsung media space it is the other day when I wrote an email to my friend, copywriter and poet of adland, Rishi Dastidar. This bounced back into my inbox telling me he was away. I was about to delete it unread when the first line caught my eye, and I realised there was a lovely little poem inside, in place of the robotic missive you’re normally confronted with.

It was so charming I decided to share it. It’s not quite the same just repeated here, but try and imagine it ‘in situ’ if you will, in an email.

The paperclip told me
In a menacing way,
“You can’t just flee
Because it’s your birthday.
I solemnly propose
That you compose
A short, pithy note
Allowing you to gloat;
Then inform friends, colleagues
And those pesky bots
Who cannot stop,
That your absence will end
On Friday the 5th.
Do it now. Forthwith!”

Has anyone ever received or composed a better one than this? I remember reading about a rather lovely one which Bronte wrote. No, not Emily or Charlotte, but Bronte of Fruit Towers, as written about in John Simmons’ book on Innocent, where he describes her own exceptionally long and kooky Out of office auto reply:

Hejsa. Somewhere, beyond the sea, is a small country called Denmark. It’s almost like a fairy tale there: lots of little castles set amongst the rolling green hills, beautiful princes and princesses who ride white horses around town, their blonde shiny hair shimmering like gold on the gentle minus 15 degree breeze. Happy people are Danish people who love nothing more than to wave red and white flags around profusely – and drink what is probably the best beer in the world. They also love not saying the word “please” but we can’t be too upset about this, for in this lovely country, a word for “please” simply does not exist. Truly, a magical (but sometimes a little bit rude) place.

So, I’ve gone to the wonderful Copenhagen for a few days. I’ll be running around going to lots of important meetings and it is unlikely I’ll be on email (no fancy Berry thing for me, but my mobile is on so you can try to catch me that way if you need to get hold of me).Bye for now (or hej-hej, as the Danes would say).

OK so it’s actually even longer than that but you get the idea. It’s a nice extension of the brand… the tone of voice kind of explodes into your inbox whether you like it or not… either way, that’s surely the world record for the longest out of office reply, isn’t it?

This has just got us thinking….surely we could do more with this space? Brands could try and buy this space somehow, and do partnership tie-ins, for the different ‘reasons’ people are away, there could be sponsorships for each of them. e.g. If e.g. with Thomson for when you’re on holiday. Or if you’ve gone home ill, maybe Lemsip could be tied in with this? Just a thought…





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