The right answer is in tiqui-taca

Johan Cruyff was a dutch footballer, winner of the Ballon d’Or 3 times and was regarded as the poster boy of a footballing philosophy known as ‘Total Football’. After a playing career that took him from Ajax to Barcelona to the States and back to Holland again he finally stopped playing in 1984.

He then ignored his feet and turned his hand, to coaching.

It was as a coach that he made his biggest contribution to the global love of football.

Between 1988 and 1996, whilst coaching Barcelona Johan Cruyff put the roots down and developed a style of play that is now known as Tiqui-taca, pronounced tiki-taka. With this footballing philosophy, possession is key and every channel and player on the pitch is used.

This quiet revolution was used by subsequent coaches and was fundamental in creating one of the most successful club teams in the modern era.  Tiqui-taca was then taken on by the Spanish national team and in just 4 years it made them, one of the most successful international teams in the modern era.

The key to it’s continuing success, and the difference to say the success Argentina enjoyed during the 80s through Diego Maradonna, is the system is built on every player being involved, if one player is injured or out of form then another (albeit brilliant) footballer can come in with minimum fuss.

Putting the team first brings more success to the individual.

Or as Xavi, one of the finest footballers living today, beautifully said…

‘Without my team mates my football means nothing.’

We think that sums up the way we work perfectly.

That doesn’t mean ‘everything is decided by committee’.

What it means is collectively our work is better, stronger. Collectively our work means something… actually it means more than that.

As an agency our work means everything.

It means that even before our clients see our work it has already had the advantage of exposure. Which means everything has been questioned and evaluated.

Like Tiqui-taca, if the agency is set up where everyone attacks the problems of our clients from different angles we should start to create a myriad of thoughts and ideas. We think of this as the geometry of opportunity.

That means we create and understand frameworks in which we can thrive.

One of our firmest beliefs is everybody or should we say anybody can have an idea. Having ideas isn’t difficult. Judging, evaluating and executing ideas though take a whole set of skills and experience that could fill an agency. In our case it does.

The agency has been set-up in a much more fluid way. Every player can be used.

As I mentioned earlier there are frameworks. These frameworks have been created to help everybody thrive in the process of creating great work. Including our clients and suppliers.

If getting to away games includes driving through the Alps, then nobody wants to shut their eyes as they leave home and wake up at their destination.

That’s why we include our clients every step of the way. If they are only included in the original briefing and then the final presentation, they miss out on the journey and we miss out on their experience.

It all comes down to ownership. This way everyone feels a part of it and the campaign in question doesn’t feel like a foster child.

At Pepper we’re all charged with doing ‘Whatever it takes’. This ethos is carried through from developing strategies, writing briefs, answering briefs and delivering answers.

Delivery shares equal billing with strategy and creativity.

The time when teams are at their most vulnerable is just after they’ve scored. There’s no point in celebrating great ideas if no one is focused on defending them to the final whistle.

There’s nothing worse than spending weeks and months of late nights, spilling blood all over the strategy and creativity to literally get a bloody nose from a mistake delivering the work. Brilliant work can get written off just as quickly as lousy work, so we always treat every part of the game with the same respect.

Again, that takes different people to ensure the work always exceeds our high expectations.

Sometimes we have to step backwards a little to leap forwards a lot.

We’re not ashamed of that, running headlong into a cul de sac is a waste of time and energy. Johan Cruyff understood this.

The aim is to score great goals beautifully. The same goes for our work too.

That’s not a style over content thing, they should work hand in hand.

As Buckminster Fuller, a non footballer said ‘When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty… but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.’

Andy Bolter
Creative Director 

Everybody was Kung-Fu writing

Bruce Lee made Kung Fu a global phenomenon during the 70s. His biggest claim in the martial arts world was founding Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid style of fighting and philosophy that had no style.

Or as Bruce described it, ‘fighting without fighting’. In essence Bruce Lee believed just using one style was too restrictive, too rigid and in essence ineffective. He believed combat should be spontaneous, that fighters should ‘be like water’ and be able to move fluidly and without hesitation.

Interestingly, that ethos is exactly the same in the way we work. As a communications agency our expertise lies in just that… communication.

We believe for brands to talk with the myriads of different audiences that it needs to effectively, then it’s conversations need to ‘be like water’ and be able to move fluidly (and quickly) through different channels, without hesitation.

Now it’s true to say that companies already understand this, that’s why they use different agencies for different aspects of communication. The problem arises with all the agencies involved working on their individual briefs either in ignorant bliss of the bigger picture or worse than that (for the client) trying to carve out a bigger piece of work for themselves like street gangs battling for more turf.

The other issue working with different agencies, without a clear path for all to travel with is the hesitation that can grow between the different briefs.

So what does communication mean?

The Collins English Dictionary describes it as ‘the imparting or exchange of information, ideas or feelings’. Which seems to sum it up quite well and a good place to start.

First thing’s first. Whatever result you’re after, whether it’s simply brand awareness or a measured response we start with a defined strategy, where we establish exactly what we need to say and work out what the response will be.

We then work out how we want to say it. This goes beyond tone of voice. This is where the relevant disciplines are highlighted. From advertising to social we analyse the best way forward for getting the message out to the relevant people.

At the same time we also gather a better understanding of who we are talking to. Which obviously informs the way we speak to them. It’s important to remember that we don’t speak to target markets, we speak to people.

And finally, when we know what, how and who we’re communicating to we work with experts to understand the key factors to where and when.

The most important part of this process is our product, the creative idea. Being creative isn’t a fluffy box to tick. Being creative is the process of having original ideas that have or create real value.

Anyone can have idea, but it takes a collection of people to execute the idea in a way that adds real business value. From communication strategists to creatives it’s incredibly important that we work with our clients to produce effective work.

The whole way through the campaign we always think of a quote by Eisenhower ‘In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.’ In today’s world of constant, fluid communication, that quote has become indispensable to our approach.

Then once everything is in place, we’re confident that our work will have another thing in common with Jeet Kune Do… maximum impact, at extreme speed, if necessary, without wasted effort.

Andy Bolter
Creative Director