How do you go about creating a digital agency and technology company with a campaign heart?

2004

We’ve just finished working our hearts out for the Howard Dean campaign, where our candidate had an idea we loved: to run a campaign that would bring people back to the political process by asking them to take ownership of it. And we found a way to do it—by building up an email list and asking people to invest in a grassroots organization, $5 or $10 at a time.

But that campaign failed. It didn’t connect the movement it built to the campaign's organizational reality, and the technology didn’t stand up under the strain of presidential politics’ speed and scale.

So we set about changing things.

The beginning.

2005-2006

We get digital a seat at the table at the Democratic National Committee to remake the party with Governor Dean’s 50-state strategy. The digital team literally moves on up from the basement to an office around the corner from the chairman. We cultivate small-dollar donors, build a grassroots network, and start building a suite of digital engagement tools that won't choke when it matters most.

Coding and community-building.

2007-2008

When the party starts gearing up for the primaries, we get the chance to work with a contender called Barack Obama. It's an experiment that the digital team is given a major role in the nascent Obama campaign to drive donations, generate voter contacts, and persuade millions of people to support a long-shot Democratic candidate. It pays off. Through a lot of innovation and improvisation, digital helps raise a historic $500 million from 6.5 million donations over the course of the race. Supporters use the BSD Tools to post more than 200,000 events and create more than 45,000 volunteer groups. It adds up to history.

History.

2009-2010

We bring the lessons we've learned from politics and apply them to help causes and brands bring about the change they need: organizationally, strategically, and technologically. We start working with clients ranging from the NAACP to Vogue to the Green Bay Packers to help them think differently not just about digital, but about the relationships their organizations can have with people.

Proving the model.

2011-2012

We prove we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

On the political side, we get asked back to help run the digital arm of the president's re-election effort. It's a different kind of challenge from '08: we've got 18 months to build a team, so the new goal is to do it as creatively and efficiently as possible against steep odds. We bring the lessons of Obama ‘08 and of the BSD years of 2009-2010 to bear, but do it at scale with bigger projects, broader timelines, and bolder ambitions—using digital to create the largest grassroots campaign in history.

Forward.

Meanwhile,

Back at Blue State, over 120 team members are working on 100 different projects for brands and causes from Ford Social to Partners In Health. We find new and creative ways to build authentic relationships with people, and that translates to exceeding real fundraising, brand awareness, and advocacy goals.

Firing on a few dozen cylinders.

Today

Because we're not the type to rest on our laurels, we start working with new clients ranging from modern art museums to statewide political campaigns while finding ways to do all of our work more effectively and creatively.

Better, faster, stronger.

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