NEWS30 November 2017

Unlimited Group insight agencies merge to form Walnut Unlimited

Behavioural science M&A News UK

UK – ICM Direct, ICM Unlimited and Marketing Sciences Unlimited (incorporating consultancy Walnut Unlimited) are merging under the brand Walnut Unlimited.


From 1st December, the new research agency entity, Walnut Unlimited, will bring together the three insight agencies of Unlimited Group, the holding group formerly known as Creston Unlimited.

The company has said the new consolidated agency will be centred on ‘human understanding'.

Marketing Sciences Unlimited acquired specialist neuroscience consultancy Walnut in 2014. The new Walnut Unlimited will focus on neuroscience and behavioural psychology, in addition to behavioural economics across retail and customer experience/engagement, technology, financial, FMCG, brand and communications/media.

The news follows the departure of ICM Unlimited managing director Andrew Wiseman. ICM Unlimited’s public sector and social research team, which incorporates its polling offer, will retain the ICM Unlimited brand.

Jane Rudling, managing director of Marketing Sciences Unlimited (pictured right), will lead the new offer as managing director of Walnut Unlimited.

Rudling said: “Walnut Unlimited is the coming together of four insight agencies around a single concept: human understanding. This has sat – and always should sit – at the core of world-class research and from today onwards, it will be our centre of gravity.”

The move is partly in response to client demand for more emotional insights and also the result of increased collaboration across the agencies for multi-disciplinary projects, according to Rudling.

“Clients are increasingly interested in emotional decision-making as well as rational decision-making. Rather than having pockets of innovation scattered around the business, we’re bringing them together,” she said.

“It became apparent that Marketing Sciences, ICM and Walnut were coming closer together and collaborating a lot more. Most of what we’re doing now is multi-disciplinary, and so bringing the agencies together makes it easier for us to work together.”

Rudling will lead the board, joined by the current board directors of Marketing Sciences and ICM – Ian Ralph, Laura Ablett, Steve Ogborn, Danni Findlay and Andy Myers.

Walnut founder Cristina de Balanzo will continue to lead the development of Walnut Unlimited’s neuroscience offer.

The new agency will continue to operate across the existing offices in London and Winchester. It will work closely with Unlimited Group’s other agencies, including creative agency TMW, CRM specialist Prophecy, Health Unlimited and PR agencies Nelson Bostock and Fever.

The group merged EMO Unlimited and The Real Adventure Unlimited to form Prophecy Unlimited earlier this year.

Unlimited Group dropped ‘Creston’ from its name in October 2016. In December, the company went private following a £75.8m sale to investment firm Dbay.

Tim Bonnet, president of the holding group, said: “The Unlimited Group is further cementing its place as the home of experts in the impact of art and science, and continuing to make it easier for clients to access its market leading disciplines.” 

Pictured from left to right: The Walnut Unlimited board - Ian Ralph, Steve Ogborn, Laura Ablett, Danni Findlay, Andy Myers and Jane Rudling.