MONDAY 28 NOV 2016 3:46 PM


Sometimes the issue of trust can arise between agencies and brands. In the process of collaboration, complex ideas are often fragmented and diminished. Andy Bolter, creative partner at Yes&Pepper, talks fostering inclusiveness, integrating technology and why the simplest ideas aren’t always the best.


What does Yes&Pepper do?

At our heart we’re an ideas agency who work with brand that have ideas of their own. Using creativity, collaboration and technology we build campaigns, marketing propositions and products with marketing teams that don’t accept the status quo.

How is it different to the original agency, Pepper?

The original agency was an integrated agency that believed our people were the difference. Which in some ways was true, but that only works if you celebrate what makes us different by building it into our DNA. So we looked at what we enjoyed and believed we were good at: ideas. We rationalised our belief that everyone has the ability to be creative and built a framework or a process that actually allowed everyone to be part of building ideas. We also believe that creativity is very inclusive; it's a leveller. And finally, instead of holding on to our old processes and hoping the future might pass us by like Hurricane Doris, we looked at what brands wanted from their agencies and worked out if we could be more useful. We’re not for everyone, but we don't want to be.

How does Yes&Pepper approach the creation of a client campaign or brand?

Well the first thing to say is, we’re not a completely new revolution. We’ve just turned the model inside out so people on the outside, our clients can be a part of it and not hidden from it. We literally have a kick off meeting with the client, creatives, account team and potentially partners or customers before the brief is written. We’ll agree on the output of the brief. From there we’ll work on a strategy and create an ideas brief. The whole agency is invited to the briefing, not just the creative team. And if anyone can't make it, we put the brief on our platform in the cloud for them to see. Once the chosen idea has been established, our client can either roll it out with their internal studio (if they have one), take it to another rostered agency that may be more competitively priced, or ask us to roll it out. Our belief is ideas are precious, so we’re not.

Does the implementation of innovative technology generate good results? Is social media useful in this process?

Technology itself doesn’t generate good results. The AI CD in McCaan Japan can only delve into the history that it's got stored away and innovate from that. Innovation and invention are two different things. Tech should be about celebrating everything that it means to be human, like our ability to communicate, not to replace us. I think it brings people together, producing better work, I don’t think you can rely on technology at the moment to give you better results when it comes to generating ideas. As for social media, if you define what you want to use it for and if you find the right audience, it’s useful. Otherwise, it’s just lots of noise.

Can Yes&Pepper foster a good thinking space?

A good thinking space – somewhere where you don’t feel challenged for asking the wrong questions. Collaboration doesn’t just mean the agency and the client, it means bringing in partners and customers. We brought in people from other departments, whether they were the head of innovation, head of insurance, head of marketing. We held a meeting/workshop in our agency… we created a safe space, where people outside of their normal working environments, bringing different people and perspective.

What advice would you give to communicators to ensure complex ideas are relevant to the workplace?

Involve the workplace – not just once, but throughout the process. Show stuff early. If you get involved in something early, you get more ownership and inspiration out of it. Test it on a working group. If an idea is truly complex, don't fall in the trap of thinking the best ideas are the simplest. I get frustrated when people use the phrase, ‘The simplest idea is often the better idea.’ If you’ve got a truly complex idea but break it down to a pithy statement so people can understand it, you have to wonder what bits you’re leaving out. Don’t just break ideas into simplicity.

If it’s a complex idea, don’t be afraid of keeping it complex. And equally, don’t feel like you have to hide it until the idea is entirely thought through. The best weapon we all have is half-finished ideas, allowing others to build on it, be a part of the process and celebrate the results.

Andy Bolter is creative partner at ideas agency, Yes&Pepper