OK, let's start by fulfilling a promise up front. Here's Ryan Reynolds's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't worry. He's OK with this. I assume he has other email addresses, but this one is associated with Aviation Gin, which he owns. He gave the email out on The Tonight Show the other day. And, if you send a message to him at that address, you get an amusing, slightly rambling, and stream-of-consciousness out-of-office reply.
In fact, here's the one I got a few hours ago. (Apparently, he changes it regularly.) I'm not going to reprint the entire thing because it runs 340 words, which is half the length of this entire article. But you'll get the gist:
Thank you for your interest in Aviation American Gin! You've reached my Out Of Office Mission Statement.
Why is Aviation the best damn gin on the planet? What sets it apart from other gins on the market? Do people who ask and then answer their own questions have an above average IQ? Probably.
It goes on from there. Yes, it's a bit weird; I find it funny. If you've ever seen Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively, on social media, they run that way. And after he shared the address on The Tonight Show, 20,000 people took the time to send him a message.
.@AviationGin has had a lot of attention lately. 20,000 daily emails crashed our servers. I had no idea we had an IT Department until an hour ago. They seem super sober.-- Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) August 15, 2018
This is actually a brilliant and unexpected way to market a product and get a lot of extra media. Here's how it works, and why maybe you should think of trying something similar the next time you have something to promote.
1. It's unexpectedly personal.
Giving out your email address--even if it's clearly not your primary email--is unexpected and memorable. It's why people are surprised to learn that if you send an email to Jeff Bezos (email@example.com) or Tim Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org), there's actually a chance it will reach them and you'll get a reply.
2. It's super cost-efficient.
An email response like this is practically free. And if you've ever tried to create an email list, you'll know how impressive receiving 20,000 messages in a single day is. Beyond that, it's an asset that almost everyone has, but almost nobody uses effectively as a marketing channel.
3. It's funny and varied.
I heard about this in Adweek, which reprinted a few of the other autoreplies Reynolds has used on this account since he set it up last February. If I have any constructive criticism, it's that it would be cool to update the message every day, to encourage highly engaged fans to come back every 24 hours. I'll reprint excerpts from a few of them below.
Now, does Reynolds actually check this email inbox? Does he read anything you send to him there? (Do people who ask and then answer their own questions have an above-average IQ?)
I'm guessing he probably doesn't. If so, it means he's ignoring me and my request for an interview about this whole thing.
Here are a few snippets of some of Reynolds's other autoreplies.
Thank you for your email and interest in Aviation American Gin! I'm away from my desk at the moment but will respond the moment they give me a desk. ... I don't know whose idea it was to allow me into the gin business, but I can assure you, there are smarter, more reasonable people in charge.
This is only my 2nd OUT OF OFFICE REPLY. From what I'm told, it should be short, sweet and NEVER overly personal or emotional.
Owning a gin company has been one of the great privileges of my life. And while it won't quite make up for the nonexistent relationship I had with my father, it always warms my heart to see others celebrating paternal relationships which have been built on trust, warmth, and totally natural amounts of eye contact.
I will be out of the office celebrating Canada Day (July 1), World UFO Day (July 2nd), Tom Cruise's Birthday (July 3rd) and July 4th (July 4th.) It's also National Picnic Month so let's just reconnect in August, shall we?
Thanks for your email but unfortunately, I am out of the office on official business. I really can't say more than that. It's official. It's business. And that's that.