VCCP and Cowry Consulting to Keep Britain Tidy in Major New Campaign

9 months ago

The new campaign aims to stop cigarette butt littering in the UK

Keep Britain Tidy has appointed an integrated communications agency to lead its new campaign to stop people dropping cigarette butts.

VCCP London will be leading the project, which was won during a three-way competitive pitch, to help combat the form of littering that accounts for 66% of all litter in England. Is it estimated that there are around 2.4 million dropped cigarettes butts on English high streets – and it takes 14 years to break apart the microplastics, which release toxic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, formaldehyde and nicotine into the environment as they break down.

The pitch for the project saw VCCP collaborating with Cowry Consulting, one of the world’s leading Behavioural Science consultancies, who were acquired by VCCP Group at the start of the year. This win also represents the first joint win since the acquisition.


Cowry Consulting and VCCP Stoke worked collaboratively during the pitch process ensuring that the creative ideas adhered to all key behavioural principles. The team also used behavioural models to inform ways to engage the audience, VCCP Stoke conducted in-person qualitative groups with smokers which influenced the pitch presentation.

Further research between Cowry Consulting and VCCP with smokers uncovered the fact that whilst most smokers would not dream of dropping litter such as drinks cans or crisp packets, they do not view dropping cigarette butts as nearly as bad, and often do not even consider it as littering.

Littering is both ugly and costly, so I was quite shocked to learn that some smokers don’t regard dropping cigarette butts in the same category as other litter

Andrew Peake

Following these findings, VCCP and Cowry Consulting will be working towards shifting this perception and driving changes in people’s behaviour. The campaign is set to launch across the UK in November.

Alison Ogden-Newton of Keep Britain Tidy said: “Cigarette butts remain the single most littered item in our country. At Keep Britain Tidy, we are on a mission to dramatically reduce cigarette litter by 2025, which is no small undertaking. We were impressed by VCCP and Cowry’s audience research at pitch stage, drawing insights that have been translated into engaging and persuasive creative.

“We are greatly excited about the work and look forward to launching the campaign later this year.”

Andrew Peake, VCCP CEO added: “Littering is both ugly and costly, so I was quite shocked to learn that some smokers don’t regard dropping cigarette butts in the same category as other litter. I’m pleased that with our colleagues in Cowry Consulting,we can do our bit to help stub out this littering behaviour and to correct some people’s views about the impact of their habits.”

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