Interesting developments in the world of technology and social media are adrift amid reports that Blue State Digital (BSD), the innovative digital communications firm responsible for President Barack Obama’s online fundraising capacity during the 2008 elections, is being acquired by WPP, a global advertising and strategic communications company. Information on the terms or how much WPP is paying for the acquisition were not yet disclosed.
With its revenue growing by 30% since its founding in 2004, BSD coordinated the bulk of Obama’s 2008 online fundraising, which snagged the then-candidate a record-breaking $500 million during the course of the campaign. That amount constituted the majority of the over $600 million in total monies raised, outpacing the amount raised by conventional fundraising bundlers. During the course of the campaign, some 3 million donors contributed a total of 6.5 million donations that averaged $100 or less – adding up to the half a billion dollar total. The average Obama campaign donor gave $80 at any given time.
“You looked at the money being raised online in the same way that you looked at the crowds who came to the rallies,” said Joe Rospars, Obama’s new media director and a Founding Partner of Blue State digital during a 2008 interview with the Washington Post. “You were constantly surprised at the number of people who were coming out to see him,” and, when it came to online donations, “people exceeded our expectations as to what they were willing to do.”
Strategists ponder aloud whether Obama’s 2012 reelection effort will be able to match the energy of his 2008 campaign. Some analysts have stated that the Obama campaign in 2012 will have to raise over $1 billion to win.
BSD’s client list includes names of vaunted corporate and non-profit institutions such as HBO, Harvard University, AT&T and the American Red Cross. Over the years, it has directed online strategy, advocacy and online fundraising for a number of major non-profits, political campaigns, educational institutions and major corporations. It’s helped clients raise over $800 million. It employs 130 people in offices in Washington, D.C., London, Boston, Los Angeles and New York. WPP is said to have been attracted by BSD’s proprietary technology and strategy formats.
“Blue State Digital will bring distinctive skills to WPP Digital through its formidable presence in cause-based marketing, its comprehensive core technology set and an impressive set of clients,” said Mark Read, Director of Strategy for the parent company and CEO of WPP Digital in a recent statement. “We are delighted they will be joining WPP Digital and are looking forward to working with a very talented management team, with unique credentials, to bring their skills to the entire WPP network and our clients.”
“I’ve witnessed first-hand Blue State Digital’s political prowess and I am very impressed by their ability to take their political and organizing skills and apply them to a wide array of challenges,” said Howard Paster, WPP’s Executive Vice President, Public Relations and Public Affairs. “Providing services that span the political, not-for-profit and commercial worlds is not always easy, but BSD masters it. They are a welcome addition to WPP Digital.”
Thomas Gensemer, Managing Partner of BSD, added, “We are excited to continue our growth within WPP Digital. We look forward to leveraging WPP’s vast resources, incredible talent, and deep client relationships around the world to grow our business and further extend our leadership for both non-profit and for-profit clients.”
“WPP Digital will be a great home for BSD as we pursue our mission of bridging traditional and new-media campaigns to deepen relationships between organizations and the people most important to them,” added Rospars, who is now creative director for BSD.