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Tonči Klarić, BBDO Zagreb: “We feel like we’ve really hit the soft spot with Out-Of-Office Awards”

June 2, 2016

MM just recently wrote about "Out of Office Awards" campaign that was created by Croatian agency BBDO Zagreb for Croatian Tourist Board. "We wanted to be straightforward, yet very simple when approaching the online users during their office daydreaming about a perfect holiday destination," creative director Tonči Klarić described the callenge. We asked him about an idea and implementation of the campaign.

Out Of Office Award* (2016) is an online competition that invites users around the globe to submit their most creative Out Of Office messages. The author of the most creative piece of written response wins an exclusive holiday in Croatia – an all-inclusive sailing trip along the Croatian coast. “And an actual award, too,” stresses Klarić.

HTZ 2016 FB OOO banner 1200x628 v1.1 (1)
Out Of Office Award is currently running online so you can apply with your own creative piece at: www.outofofficeaward.com.

Firstly, How did you come up with the idea? After all, we all hate receiving out-of-office messages but on the contrary love writing it.

The team at BBDO was already working on a pre-season campaign that targeted specific markets and office working people to just get “out of office” or “out of reach” and travel to Croatia. One of our creative directors Tino Kera led this whole campaign followed by TVC and online display ads throughout the markets.

The idea for the Out Of Office Award popped-up in everyday life, just like most of them do, while I was checking my mail and someone had a smartass reply message with a meme attached to it that sounded a bit like “I’M ON VACAAAY BITCHEZ!!!”. At first, I chuckled at this NSFW approach, but then I realized – the out of office reply messages are an integral part of any office in the world and a very simple piece of content that shouts to just about everyone: “I’m on vacation!”. It’s like a postcard that you get before the postcard. Also, it’s a very pure form of digital storytelling.

We started searching for more funny out of office replies and found a bunch of different articles on the subject as well as some really funny material. This whole text form is very much like a short story with a competitive factor. Therefore, we added an award to fuel the creativity behind it and a  perfect all-inclusive vacation to motivate all those office workers around the globe. The Out Of Office Award was born.

"What do we all have in common once we decide to take a break from work and go for a holiday? Out Of Office reply messages," says creative director at BBDO Zagreb, Tonči Klarić.
“What do we all have in common once we decide to take a break from work and go for a holiday? Out Of Office reply messages,” says creative director at BBDO Zagreb, Tonči Klarić.

How would you comment the participation in Out of Office Awards? It seems like some out-of-office artists have really thought out their messages and got extremely creative.

We are very happy with the user engagement so far and the feedback from the online community has been really great. People are very eager to participate, scroll through other peoples’ out of office messages and share the whole campaign as well. We feel like we’ve really hit the soft spot with all those people who would gladly trade their dull office space for a few weeks on a boat sailing around the beautiful Croatian islands. I’ve got to admit, some of those office ninjas out there are very funny and creative.

Overall, what was the biggest challenge regarding the campaign from creative process to implementation?

Every project is challenging in its own way and this one is no different. The simplicity of the idea was very rewarding for the whole process which allowed us to easily setup the digital ecosystem. However, we’ve spent a lot of our time discussing the design of the actual OOO award and re-evaluating the purpose behind it. Agencies are used to getting awards all the time and we were designing one. We were very happy that the people from PES Creative Factory helped us in designing a statue that just adds certain flavour to this whole project.

What was clients first reaction to the idea? You’re working with an established organisation, how did you develop a solid understanding and collaboration?

The Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) has been a client of ours for quite some time now. The new “Full Of Life” positioning for the Croatia brand has been a combined effort of our BBDO offices in Zagreb, London and Barcelona. Since then we’ve made a lot of progress in raising awareness about Croatia being a destination that provides vacation and adventure seekers with unforgettable experiences – all year round.

CNTB is very open to fresh ideas and different approaches to advertising Croatia and this is why we knew the Out Of Office Award project is gonna get greenlighted from day one.

"CNTB is very open to fresh ideas and different approaches to advertising Croatia and this is why we knew the Out Of Office Award project is gonna get greenlighted from day one," says Klarić.
“CNTB is very open to fresh ideas and different approaches to advertising Croatia and this is why we knew the Out Of Office Award project is gonna get greenlighted from day one,” says Klarić.

The deadline for most creative out-of-office messages is nearly here: what are your personal favourites so far?

 I’m a jury member so… I cannot confirm nor deny that I have any favourites.

To end this short interview I would like to as you about your work in Slovenia as you worked for Pristop. Could you briefly describe your experience here?

The time I’ve spent in Pristop and Slovenia was a very valuable part of my career that allowed me to experience a different agency, a different market and a different life. The country might be a bit smaller than Croatia but that doesn’t mean the challenges were. Slovenians are quite tech-savvy and very creative, as I’ve had the chance to see for myself during my time in Ljubljana once the whole crowdfunding scene was booming. The whole city seemed to be bursting with creatives and fresh ideas.

I was working on campaigns for some of the biggest Slovenian brands with the teams from both Renderspace and Pristop, which was an opportunity to team up with some of the best talent in the country. During this time we’ve created projects that gained high praise on festivals like SOF, Sempl, Diggit and BalCannes… Judging by the results from this years’ SOF, it seems Pristop doesn’t show any sign of a writer’s block and I’m really happy for them. To be honest, I love Ljubljana and I always look forward to going there. My Slovenian was really shitty, though. Still is.

Yes, the winner gets an award as well.
Yes, the winner gets an award as well.