WPP Buys 'Obama for America' Agency Blue State Digital
Blue State Digital, the online ad agency responsible for the "Obama for America" Internet juggernaut in the 2008 presidential election, has been acquired by WPP, the world's biggest ad agency holding company. BSD, with about 130 employees in offices located in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Boston and London, will be integrated into WPP Digital, the umbrella company for WPP's online and mobile agencies. BSD was represented by Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc.; terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In 2008, BSD created what is arguably the most successful online campaign for a political cause to date, led by founding partner Joe Rospars, including fund-raising and social networking components that raised $500 million dollars and mobilized several million voters for Barack Obama's successful presidential bid. Its work overseas has also displayed a political bent, with one campaign for union clients trying to stop the privatization of the British postal service, and another taking aim at far-right anti-immigrant groups in the UK.
However, BSD also handles brand marketing, membership, and advocacy campaigns for clients including HBO, American Red Cross, Vogue, National Geographic, AT&T, Jewish Federations of North America, Autism Speaks and Harvard. It has posted annual revenue gains of at least 30% every year since its founding in 2004; in 2009, it claimed total revenues of $12.8 million.
Although it is unusual to broadcast political affiliations in the business world, there is a subset of ad agencies that are generally known to work exclusively for Democratic or Republican candidates, as well as for allied political causes and advocacy groups.