Bristol’s digital pioneer e3 merges with London consultancy to create ‘new kind of agency’

Trailblazing Bristol digital agency e3 has merged with strategy consultancy London Strategy Unit (LSU) to form Great State.

The combined agency employs around 80 staff across offices in Bristol’s Paintworks, and in East London working with blue-chip clients such as Honda, Arla, GlaxoSmithKline and Adidas.

It is being led by e3 co-founder Stuart Avery as chief executive. E3 managing director Neil Collard has taken on the same role at Great State while LSU managing director Matt Boffey becomes head of consulting.

Stuart formed e3 – one of the UK’s first digital agencies -more than 20 years ago with co-director Mike Bennett while they were still at the University of Bristol.

It became one of the country’s leading independent agencies of its kind, often breaking new ground in digital for clients such as Orange, Clarks and the National Trust. As one of the pioneers of Bristol’s digital sector it also helped create a vibrant ecosystem for the industry in the city, where it still employs around 70 people.

It opened a London office in 2005 and two years ago acquired a major stake in LSU. Great State now brings together the skills of e3 and LSU under one roof to offer strategy consultancy, experience and service design and technical engineering.

Stuart told Campaign: “We invested in LSU two years ago and we’ve been working ever since as a group but as two independent businesses.

“Now we believe there is a space for a new type of agency that brings together our skills to help clients stay relevant in a connected world.

“There have been no conflict clients, instead we’ve been offering our extended services to existing clients.”

He said the merged agency brought “something fresh” to the market.

“Clients don’t want yet another traditional comms agency or another big management consultancy. They’re tired of being pitched a ‘new campaign’ or ‘death by PowerPoint’.

“Instead, they need a partner who can help them with the fundamental problem of staying relevant – which is tougher than when you look at how demanding today’s consumers have become.”

Great State intended to answer the needs of large, established organisations and big brands which might be losing customers to new market entrants.

Its mission is to help brands stay relevant in a connected world and stop “them sliding into irrelevance [which] is today’s biggest business challenge, Stuart said.

“What was once magical is quickly mediocre. So clients need a fresh approach and a new agency model.”

By combining LSU’s deep consumer understanding with e3’s 20-year heritage of digital delivery, Great State promises to help clients define and deliver the products and services that will drive the greatest value – at pace and with scale.

Matt Boffey added: “These brands lose relevance when they fail to keep up with consumer expectations – the change of which is largely driven by new tech.

“This observation comes from the experience of working with organisations whose marketers and C-suite decision-makers are struggling because the world has changed. We’ve created our company to help these senior decision makers optimise themselves for consumers.”

Pictured: Great State directors, from left, Neil Collard, Matt Boffey and Stuart Avery with the merged agency team

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