The Challenge

Think boldly and get top students in the US to consider UCL as their top choice.

A team of Primacy’s education industry experts was challenged to spend an intense week developing a strategy and creative approach that would help turn University College London (UCL) from a virtual unknown to a destination of choice for US students with the “UCL Gene.”

The Insight

Be audacious because we’re after some pretty audacious prospects.

UCL is not only exceptional, but it is quirky, creative, progressive, purposeful and even a tad eccentric. Now we just need to find and connect with equally exceptional, brave and like-minded American students. Because if we find them, they’ll fall in love with UCL.

“We were gobsmacked by how much you accomplished in just a week!”

University College London Liaison & Recruitment Manager
American student traits.

The Process

An epic, barn burning, week-long working session.

Recognizing the opportunity and the urgency to rethink UCL’s international marketing approach, the week-long deep dive was developed to compress several months of work and accelerate Primacy’s process—immersion, discovery, quantitative and qualitative research, strategy, creative and a final deck in just 5 days. We sent a team to London to fully immerse themselves in the UCL campus, experience and culture. This led to real connections, deeper understanding, tangible insights and a strategic approach UCL can take to market—and all in one week.


Not all great minds are the same. We needed to connect with the adventurous ones that create and innovate as boldly as UCL.

Learning about UCL prior to brainstorm sessions.
People having a meeting.
People having a meeting and brainstorming.
Close up of a notebook with brainstorming notes.
Napkin and cocktail.
Computer screen showing UCL messaging.

Smarter Experience

Digging into the data on the fly.

We only had a week, so we dove right in. And we dove deep. Day one, we fielded a survey of the US market in order to get a better understanding of UCL’s name recognition and reputation, and prospects’ willingness to study outside the US. Simultaneously we started on-ground discovery interviews on campus, talking to students and other key audiences to understand what makes UCL a compelling place to learn and live. We then developed a profile marrying prospect values with UCL’s equities, and defined a unique approach to the US market.


A degree at UCL costs roughly $60k and is completed in 3 years, making its affordability and access an important differentiator from comparable American universities.

UCL creative designs.
UCL creative designs.
UCL creative designs.
UCL creative designs.
Magazine showing UCL creative.

The Results

A big deck packed with big ideas.

It was an unprecedented effort. We left London after just five days, but we left behind a lot of internal momentum (backed by a wealth of tangible data, meaningful insights and bold go-to-market ideas). The new communications and marketing approach included a content & messaging framework, targeted messaging recommendations by channel, a tiered timeline approach and sample creative concepts. It’s the building blocks UCL will use to better focus their communication and recruitment efforts, and build a brand that’s as iconic in the US as it is in the UK.