The Corner hails creative and financial freedom since buying back agency

Agency regained independence from the Be Heard Partnership.

The Corner: agency gathered on office roof for re-indepdence day photoshoot
The Corner: agency gathered on office roof for re-indepdence day photoshoot

Neil Simpson has hailed the creative and financial freedom he has felt since buying back his agency The Corner from the Be Heard Partnership.

Three years after the agency sold for £12m, chief executive Simpson, chief strategy officer Neil Hourston and chief creative officer Tom Ewart have bought the business back.

Looking back, Simpson told Campaign that in spite of access to a new team of data and design experts, The Corner struggled to work towards the financially-focused guidelines of the Be Heard Partnership.

"We felt that we were being handicapped and delivering our best quality work," he said. "Certainly through more difficult economic times, our experience became – and this will be the same with a lot of businesses that have sold or that have an owner in some way – that the overriding decision-making criteria was to deliver a number to someone somewhere.

"I don't think that was a problem unique to Be Heard – it was something that we felt we wanted to redress and be masters of our own destiny and not necessarily be trying to deliver a number for someone somewhere in a different building in a different world."

The Corner earned a respectable seven out of 10 in this year's Campaign School Report, though it was accused of "just ticking along" after losing e-cigarette brand Blu.

"We were at our best and were award-winning when we're independent, so a big part of this is for us to get back to that," he added.

The Corner returned to the hands of its management team on 1 September. In the weeks following, Simpson remarked that his staff were "re-energised" by the shift in creative control.

He said: "We want the new Corner to be very different, not just to The Corner from launch in 2012, but the agency that went into lockdown."

The agency has announced a pair of wins since its re-independence, including legal firm Slater & Gordon and Policy Expert, with upcoming work in the pipeline for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Drinkaware.

Simpson also claimed the agency will focus on improving its diversity, with only 20% females in senior management and 8% from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background in senior management.

"These are the kinds of decisions we weren't able to make when we weren't independent – they were subordinate to a decision about a financial target imperative," he said.