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VCCP expects ‘big transformation briefs’ after deal for behavioural science firm Cowry


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

January 19, 2023 | 4 min read

VCCP explains what Cowry Consulting, one of the largest behavioural science organizations in the UK, will bring to the agency group’s arsenal.


VCCP has acquired behavioural science firm Cowry Consulting / VCCP

British agency group VCCP is to add a leading behavioural science consultancy to its network, with a deal to acquire Cowry Consulting.

According to Michael Lee, VCCP Partnerships’ chief strategy officer, the company aims to put behavioural psychology at the heart of its services for advertisers.

“We’ve seen behavioural science as an increasingly essential part of our integrated offering for a few years now,” he tells The Drum. “There have definitely been quite a few briefs where having Cowry’s capabilities could have had a significant impact. When the opportunity became available to acquire the very best behavioural science consultancy in the UK, we were naturally very keen.”

The plans for Cowry

Founded in 2016, Cowry has a staff of 38 – making it the largest behavioural science organization in the UK’s private sector; only the ‘Nudge Unit’ established by the Cabinet Office in 2010, now owned by charity Nesta, has a bigger team. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but VCCP plans to maintain the Cowry brand for the “foreseeable future.”

According to Lee, the group plans to bring the consultancy in on its current accounts as well as into pitches for new business.

“We were actually already working on some projects together with a few clients, which is when we were mutually convinced of our excellent cultural fit, but also that having access to other capabilities and clients would create even more opportunities for VCCP and Cowry,” he says.

In particular, he hopes it will sharpen VCCP’s edge in pitches for larger clients and digital and business ‘transformation’ briefs. “Arguably, the bigger potential lies in taking a behavioural science approach to big client challenges that require a significant behavioural change in individuals, like encouraging more sustainable choices, motivating healthier lifestyles and switching brands in categories with high levels of inertia,” says Lee.

Andrew Peake, chief exec of VCCP London, says that the acquisition can help the agency group steal a march on the still-emerging commercial applications of psychology.

“Behavioural science is at the beginning of its journey as a discipline but it’s already proven invaluable in helping businesses transform consumer and colleague behaviour,” he says.

“Its value is in helping clients to tackle some of the biggest perennial challenges to achieve commercial outcomes and we couldn’t be more delighted about Cowry bringing their unique capabilities into the VCCP family.”

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