Ottawa ad agency wants you to ditch your boring out-of-office message

As Christmas creeps closer, outgoing emails increasingly trigger automated out-of-office replies containing standardized, boilerplate messages that most of us scan over at best.

McMillan wants to change that.

For several years, Ottawa’s largest advertising agency – which has approximately 70 employees and counts Schneider Electric and Trend Micro among its clients – has crafted cheeky, attention-grabbing replies that appear when its employees are away from work.

Last week, in the holiday spirit of sharing, McMillan opened its creative offerings to the masses and launched a “bespoke-ish” out-of-office message generator.

Users punch in the dates they’ll be away and adjust the emphasis placed on three themes – “family dysfunction,” “sobriety” and swearing – to receive their own creative and possibly foul-mouthed out-of-office message.

“We always get comments from clients on our own out-of-office messages,” said McMillan engagement strategist Maxine Patenaude. “We wanted to find a way to bring that to other people so they can have a mini-McMillan writer of their own.”

While users of the message generator are encouraged to share their creations on social media, as well as sign up for McMillan’s email newsletter, Ms. Patenaude downplayed the suggestion that it was a marketing tool for the company. Instead, she said it was a way for the company to showcase its creativity and help email users have a little fun.

Now would likely be a good time to note that the Ottawa Business Journal offices will be closed starting on Friday, Dec. 23 as staff celebrate the holidays with some lightly oaked Chardonnay while their niece stabs them in the eye repeatedly with a lightsaber candy cane while screaming, “do or do not – there is no bleepin’ try.” We’ll be back on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Thanks, McMillan.