Ben Bold
May 25, 2023

AIS founder Stuart Archibald returns to UK to set up 'human experience' agency

Archibald describes his new venture as 'best of both consultancy and agency expertise' with 'independent mindset'.

Stuart Archibald: returning to the UK for CA.5 start-up
Stuart Archibald: returning to the UK for CA.5 start-up

Stuart Archibald, the co-founder of AIS and Australia-based Archibald Williams, has returned to the UK to set up a "human experience" agency named CA.5.

Archibald, who returned to his native Australia after leaving AIS more than 11 years ago, has said his latest venture will focus on "anthropology and technology", marrying " consultancy strategy and agency creativity in an independent hybrid offering".

In essence, the business will convene a bespoke group of customer experience and human experience specialists for specific projects. They will go into a client's business and identify so-called pain points across five key areas – customer marketing, data, brand, customer journeys, content and technology – before "implementing solutions" and "delivering growth".

CA.5 (which stands for Customer Accelerator 5) is independently funded and initially be housed in a small office in Soho's D'Arblay Street, but will scale to bigger premises as it expands. Ultimately, after establishing the business in the UK, there are plans to extend into markets such as the US and Australia.

Archibald has a basic staff of six, who will work on the core business. But CA.5's model is such that it will bring in talent to work as consultants, advisors and implementers for specific projects. These are people that Archibald has worked with in the past and include agency people and former clients.

Without naming names, the business said that these people have worked on projects such as the development and launch of Tesco Clubcard, and with and for brands including Apple, Microsoft, O2, EDF, Mastercard and News Corp.

The new venture currently has clients on boards but, due to contract negotiations, said it cannot name them. It will pitch both direct-to-client and is also looking to partner with agencies.

Archibald, said: "CA.5 brings together the world's most experienced practitioners and points them precisely at a client's pain points. We will highlight the ones that need fixing, pull the right team together and get in there and fix it. But the solution won't be based on customer experience – it will be based in anthropology and human experiences at scale. The essence of our success stories."

This will manifest in one of two ways: a client that knows it is facing issues with its data or customer journeys; and clients that do not know their "pain point". In both instances, CA.5 said it would fix the problems and turn them into an "opportunity for growth".

Archibald noted that the world has "become more automated, templated and dominated by algorithms, which leads many communications practitioners to view people as lines on a spreadsheet".

He continued: "Humans are nuanced, unpredictable, emotional and complicated. Our experts start off by thinking of them as 'humans and then we seek to inspire them through creativity – the oft-forgotten element in modern comms. The best of both consultancy and agency expertise working together – but from an independent mindset."

Archibald's new venture marks his return to the UK after departing AIS (orginally Archibald Ingall Stretton) in December of 2011 after 13 years. At the time he had spent the previous three years focused on the agency's global expansion, with the backing of parent Havas Media.

He re-emerged the following year, founding Sydney-based agency Archibald Williams, alongside Bram Williams. The agency still operates today.

In November 2010, co-founder of AIS Jon Ingall left the agency, while Archibald remained in New York. In April 2013, the last of AIS's founders, Steve Stretton stepped down.

In 2008, Havas Media, which already owned 40% of AIS, bought the agency outright and put Archibald in charge of leading its international expansion. In 2016, AIS London was merged with Havas Media Group's Arnold KLP to create Field Day.

Campaign UK

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