LONDON — Richard Tompkins, the co-founder of communications agency Where Eagles Dare, has bought out his two partners in a self-funded MBO.

Tompkins (pictured, left), the former managing director of W Communications, set up Where Eagles Dare in September 2020 with former W strategy director Adam Leigh and former The Academy managing director Ella Dorley-Brown.

Tompkins, who is now the majority shareholder in the business, told PRovoke Media the agency’s original approach had evolved since its launch: “We launched off the back of pandemic and did some amazing work together, working with brands and businesses with integrity. When we set up the business, we had views on what our approach would be, but the way clients are purchasing marketing services has evolved.

“We realised that as well as strategic brand campaign planning, board-level guidance, advice, message creation and campaign planning, we needed to offer a certain level of delivery – even more paramount as every pound spent is being more scrutinised. It’s back to my sweet spot – strategy and delivering on the more traditional outreach piece – and that’s different to what we were set up to do.”

He said the trio had “consciously uncoupled” and the MBO had been “smooth and seamless”. Of his former co-founders, whose next move is not yet known, Tompkins said: “Adam and Ella are both brilliantly talented people who will do great things. I thank them for their incredible hard work in making what Where Eagles Dare is today. We started with no backers or founding clients in a year when Covid first struck, so to survive and then thrive was no mean feat, which wouldn’t have happened without them. I wish them the very best for the future.”

Dorley-Brown said: “I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve created at Where Eagles Dare and look forward to seeing where Richard and his team take it next.”

As part of his post-MBO plans for the agency, Tompkins has formed a partnership with digital marketing and audience growth specialist agency, Be A Bear. The agencies, which have worked with shared clients over the past three years, have named the offer ‘Bear & Eagle’ and will provide clients with a blend of Where Eagles Dare’s earned strategic and creative offer, alongside paid, digital and direct-to-consumer marketing from Be A Bear, with the aim of making a stronger link between PR and revenue.

Tompkins said: “It’s a natural next step. Having worked closely with Be A Bear and sharing numerous clients that have benefitted from central strategic and creative thinking, delivered through owned, earned and paid channels, it makes sense to create this partnership. Bear & Eagle is a simplified way for clients to access a broad suite of marketing services without managing multiple agencies but with the same level of expertise.

“I’d like to create a cohort of agencies with a similar mindset, not only so clients’ money goes further, but also to provide more trackable results on how we have supported sales and added commercial value.”

Be A Bear managing director and founder Max Maharajh (pictured, right), who set up the agency in 2018, added: “We know that clients want our agencies for their specific skill sets but many don’t want the headache and inflated fees of dealing with two agencies. Through Bear & Eagle we're able to plan, deliver and amplify without unnecessary retainer fees, focussing on awesome work and measurable monetary results.”

Where Eagles Dare is also embarking on B Corp certification. The agency, which now has a team of 11 including soon-to-be-announced senior hires, has worked with Cote Brassiere, Cook Foods and Innocent and has recently picked up several new clients.

These include broadband provider Airband, for which it is developing a new communications strategy and platform including corporate message development, storytelling and thought leadership; fire safety platform RiskBase; and payroll company PayCaptain.

Tompkins said: “We’re being more flexible in the types of work we’re taking on. I have a very entrepreneurial mindset, honed through my time at W, and I’m passionate about working with business founders and management teams who want to control commercial growth as well as communications plans. I’m finding it exhilarating.”