By Jeremy Bullmore, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 18 October 2012 08:00AM
A: It's not polite to talk about it, but everybody (except you, it seems) understands that there's a clear hierarchy of obligation in our otherwise surprisingly uncorrupt trade. Few physical bungs are handed over but favours are undoubtedly granted. And whether you are a granter or a recipient of those favours depends entirely on where you're positioned on the favour chain.
Take work experience. Schools encourage their pupils to seek work experience. Parents, appalled by the interminable length of summer holidays, encourage their offspring to seek work experience. So it's entirely unsurprising that parents with business contacts should enquire of those contacts whether they'd be kind enough to offer a few weeks' work experience for Jason or Jessamy.
As a normal businessperson, you have to be exceptionally saintly or exceptionally insensitive to be pleased to take on Jason or Jessamy. Your company is very busy.
Because it's holiday time, many of your people are on holiday but the demands of work are as great as ever. The last thing your distracted workers need is the additional responsibility of making sure that Jason and Jessamy are entertained and occupied. Work experience is well-named. Young people enjoying work experience don't actually work. What they do is experience work. They experience other people working and ask them why they're doing it. And they need to be fed.
So when looking for a holiday home for Jason, every intelligent parent naturally goes fishing down the favour chain. (Being the chairman of a client company is even better than being the chief marketing officer; it's somehow loftier and less obviously venal.) And every single agency on that company's roster will declare itself thrilled to accommodate him: "No, honestly Marcus - it will be an absolute pleasure to have Jason spend some time with us!"
In just the same way, an agency person, looking to find work experience for Jessamy, will take a serious supplier out to lunch. "No, honestly Brendan - it will be an absolute pleasure to have Jessamy spend some time with us!"
So what on earth's bugging you? This production company needs you more than you need it. It must be a miserable life being as deferential down the favour chain as up it.
Q: A few people in our road have put "No Junk Mail" stickers on their letterboxes and my husband wants to put one on ours. I disagree because I occasionally find something useful on the doormat and it's me that has to pick up the stuff anyway. What arguments can I give him apart from the obvious?
A: I don't know what the obvious is. But if I were you, I'd tell him that you occasionally find something useful on the doormat - and it's you that has to pick up the stuff anyway.
Q: Where I am, the place has gone big on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Privately, I feel that it's actually social not-working. But I'm worried that if I say anything, I'll be disconnected, de-friended and un-followed. @Whattodo?
A: The scary thing about your question is that it could have been written when you were 11 and having a horrible time at school. You feel you've got to be beastly to Margery and write scurrilous things about Mr Bastable on the blackboard and pretend to have a thing about Engelbert Humperdinck because if you don't, you'll be disconnected, de-friended, un-followed and have your hair pulled out.
Don't let yourself be bullied.
But if you get all superior and make it quite obvious that you think all your colleagues are sophomoric, perhaps you deserve to be.
Q: Dear Jeremy, my client smells. His body odour is so bad it stinks up the entire office every time he visits. The irony is that he markets a major soap brand. I'm getting to the point where I might just hint that he has a problem. I think he'd appreciate the honesty. Is that wise?
A: I'm afraid that you've written to the wrong column.
"Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone (020) 8267 4919
Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via firstname.lastname@example.org or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk