LONDON — Former W Communications leaders Richard Tompkins and Adam Leigh, and The Academy's ex-managing director Ella Dorley-Brown, have launched a new communications agency, Where Eagles Dare.

Former W managing director Tompkins left the agency in July, around the same time as new CEO Rachel Friend joined from Weber Shandwick.

He is joined in the new venture by W’s former head of strategy and co-creator of the ‘i’ newspaper, Adam Leigh, who left the agency in 2018 after nearly six years, and Ella Dorley-Brown, who joined The Academy in April 2018 and left at the end of 2019. She had previously been a board director at Unity for 11 years.

The three founding partners are positioning the new agency as “building brands with integrity in a changed world.” The trio will work closely together, but broadly Tompkins (pictured, left) will be responsible for business growth and creative, Leigh (right) will focus on strategy and innovation, and Dorley-Brown (centre) will oversee campaigns and content.

Leigh and Tompkins had been talking about setting up their own agency before lockdown, and Dorley-Brown – with whom Leigh had worked previously when he was consulting for The Academy – came on board because all three shared the same ideas about the kinds of brands they wanted to work with. Leigh said their ideas had been "crystallised by the seismic events" of this year.

"Once the three of us got talking it was clear we shared similar views on what agencies do, the market opportunity, and the pace of societal transformation," he told PRovoke Media. "We could see that the pandemic was accelerating the sense of change we’d all been feeling for some time, and Covid emboldened us to collectively take a 'blank sheet of paper' approach to setting up, free of any constraints or existing ways of doing things. We’ve launched Where Eagles Dare as equal partners and 100% owners with shared values and a belief that businesses with integrity will be the ones best set up to succeed in 2020 and beyond."

Leigh said the agency had a three-pronged proposition: “We take a different view of brands, focused on integrity, and we believe marketing and communications begins with brands taking a very clear point of view across owned and then earned channels, like Nike and KFC and Lego. Third, we’ve all come from agencies with traditional retainer models and that’s often not what clients are looking for these days. Our model is based around non-retainers and being really flexible about how we work with people, especially start-ups and entrepreneurs.”

Where Eagles Dare has developed its own process, IQ (Integrity Quotient) to map clients’ business activity through the lens of integrity, covering areas such as values, policy, purpose, communication, behaviour, stakeholder and supply-chain relationships, customer experiences, innovations, cultural initiatives and causes.

Tompkins said the team was already working with a range of businesses, from a supplement start-up to a large financial institution and a food brand, on a broad spectrum of work, including branding, packaging, internal communications, fundraising digital content and e-commerce.

He told PRovoke Media: “We plan to grow as quickly as possible, and we have a transfer list of senior people who maybe have more time on their hands now, but we’re also focused on finding young talent from non-PR backgrounds such as design and copywriting. It’s scary in the wider world but we are seeing this as a massive opportunity.”

Dorley-Brown added: "I’m really excited that we’re capturing a moment when we’ll be able to do really meaningful work for clients, and help them shape their story, doing the type of work we all love doing.”