Cracking The Memory Code

Welcome to our 2024 Challenger Series agenda: Cracking The Memory Code 

How often do we remember not to be forgotten? 

The Challenger Series is built to embrace the industry’s big issues, and one of the biggest facing us is memorability. Infamously  less than 16% of ads can be remembered and correctly attributed (1). And that’s the advertising that catches the eye. A third of online ads displayed are never seen by anyone (2). 

Memory is the physics of advertising. 

But do we truly grasp its intricacies — the formation, storage, and retrieval of memories? The distinct memory types and their role in brand-building? That’s why we’ve partnered with the UK’s leading commercial behavioural psychology consultancy and business partner, Cowry, to ensure marketers become memory-makers with an unmissable mission: Cracking The Memory Code. Not because we want to be clever, but because it speaks to the type of work we believe our clients need.

“The human brain is not designed to remember, it’s designed to forget. The greatest brands understand this.”

– Charles Vallance, Founding Partner and Chairman of VCCP

Download the report here, or access our digital magazine below:

*Spoiler alert* 

The key themes we explore include:

  • The science of memory and how it works
  • How humans are built to forget – we store what feels important, and recall what’s easiest
  • “Cells that fire together, wire together” – why our brands can’t just be remembered, they need to be remembered at the right moment
  • Our curiosity to discover new things, but fear of anything that’s too new
  • The laws of memory and how they relate to our rules of thumb about creativity
  • An experiment into memory through a study of 100 of the nation’s favourite ads

You’ll also learn about whether champagne or sharks are more deadly, how the Aztecs thought they made it rain, and why a toothpaste brand supposedly shouldn’t have tried to make microwaveable meals. What more could you want?

(1) How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp (sample 143 ads)
(2) Integral Ad Science (IAS)
The Memory Index

Our proprietary Memory Index is an experiment with the people who matter most – the general public – to see what adverts they remember, whether they could name the brand, and what it was they could recall.This isn’t just VCCP work – we tested some of the best work from across the industry and the last sixty years – to see what had stuck, and why.

What we found most incredible is how much people can remember – when they want to. For every nine out of ten ads that end up on the scrapheap of memory, there’s one that we carry around forever. Ads not aired since the 1970s can still sit fresh in people’s memories.

That’s not Campaign readers. It’s someone who has no idea what a distinctive asset is, but thought the Hamlet ad was funny enough to remember it half a century later. It isn’t necessarily the ads we venerate as an industry either. When it comes to memory, characterful beats clever every time.

We know that at its best, our industry can make incredibly memorable communications that last beyond the duration of a campaign and even a career. And that being memorable is what counts at the shelf, the search engine and the till.

Our Cracking The Memory Code therefore considers the big questions: So how do we do it? And perhaps an even more pressing question for our industry: how often are we doing it?

If you want to talk to us about in more detail about the Memory Index, please email us at


As part of our 2024 agenda, we’re excited to reveal Cowry Consulting’s groundbreaking new measurement tool – MemoryEQ.

We don’t just tell you how unique and famous your individual assets are, we go deeper into why some are cracking the code to the long-term memory bank, and others aren’t. Our team of behavioural scientists and brand strategists use the results to give you practical advice on how to make all of your brand assets encodable to long-term memory.

You can find the brochure below, but if you would like to know more about how MemoryEQ can drive your marketing effectiveness, please get in touch with Phoebe Kent:

Join us

We’ll be hosting Cracking The Memory Code events across the year, so if you would like to come along please contact Stephanie Brimacombe: 

Similarly let us know if you would like us to consider a bespoke event for your company, brand or team.

Coming soon

If you’re keen to continue your exploration into the science behind memory, in September we will be launching our second event –  Hacking The Memory Code. Join our VCCP Media team as they explore how to challenge media conventions to supercharge your brand’s memorability. We also have a unique B2B focused event in the works, Memory In The Messy Middle, so stayed tuned!  To register your interest please contact Stephanie Brimacombe:

Still can’t get enough?!

There will be lots of Cracking The Memory Code news and noise across the year, but in the meantime you can check out the following coverage:

Campaign – Cracking The Code of The Memory Bank

How to Hack the Brain – Make Your Brand Memorable: How To Capture and Keep Attention.

The Challenger Series

VCCP’s logo is a young girl standing up to a bear. It encapsulates our commitment to face up to life’s biggest challenges. We were founded as a challenger agency alongside O2, and when O2 went from dead last to category leader, we remained a challenger agency. Challenger doesn’t mean underdog. It means taking on the challenges in the category, and winning – a behaviour that tends to keep brands at the front, not the back.

The Challenger Series is therefore about embracing the industry’s big questions, and answering them.