Q: My agency insists on no individual credits for work in Campaign or D%26AD. We are all known simply by the agency name. How do I make sure everybody knows I did it?

A: Is it your ambition to have everybody's good work attributed to you or only that for which you were responsible? Or perhaps you are one of the Great Delusionists, of whom I've written before - capable of such soaring feats of self-deception that you confidently take credit for work that, on examination, would have demanded of you rare pre-natal capabilities.

Let me give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is your own work alone that you'd like to see publicly recognised. This leads me to wonder why.

I expect you already send a monthly parcel of your work to your mother: so she knows. The other people in your agency and your clients will know.

Your three favourite production houses will know. The headhunters to whom you have entrusted your book will know. The 23 top creative directors to whom the headhunters will have shown your book will know.

With the possible exception of your mother, all the above are incorrigible village gossips. If your work is thought outstanding only by yourself, then anonymity should clearly be cherished. If your work is thought outstanding by absolutely everyone who knows of it, anonymity can be even more attractive: it will confer on you a reputation not only for creative superstatus but also for modesty that will allow you to out-flank and out-bargain the most relentless of self-publicists. You will even be credited with work you have never been near; but, gagged as you are by your self-imposed vow of silence, you will be reluctantly obliged to let the attribution stand.

I'm only sorry you haven't told me your name.

Q: Why should I bother writing an agency brief when it's clear on seeing work that the agency hasn't bothered to read it?

A: Agencies can be coaxed into activity only through fear or their compulsion to challenge another's point-of-view.

From their eccentric response to your brief, you deduce that they have failed to read it. You are wrong; they have read it and disagree with it so violently that they have been moved to do some work of their own.

It is essential, therefore, that you continue to write a brief. Do not, however, waste valuable management time in attempting to make it a good one.

Q: In a drunken moment at Christmas, I tried to photocopy my genitalia. Unfortunately the paper mis-fed and jammed in the machine. The engineer had to be called to retrieve it. As if this wasn't embarrassing enough, I had inadvertently activated the "reduction setting on the machine with my knee. I am now having to endure barbed comment from the men and sniggers from the ladies. Is there any way I can regain my credibility?

A: I suppose I should apologise for my tardy response to this seasonal question but I have only just been able to bring myself - if you'll excuse the innuendo - to tackle it.

You seem oblivious to your good luck. It was only the paper that got jammed in the machine. Most people, given the choice, would prefer to lose their dignity than their manhood. And since, on your own evidence, dignity was not the characteristic for which you were primarily revered within the office, your loss (and I'm sorry to use this phrase) was a small one.

Time heals. It will soon be six months since you demonstrated serious deficiencies in self-control, mechanical competence and style. Unless in the intervening period you have volunteered further evidence of such deficiencies, the worst should be over by the turn of the year. But do make a firm resolution to visit your grandmother in Redruth on the evening of your next office party. She'll be thrilled to see you.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of WPP. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today. A compilation of his business advice, Another Bad Day at the Office?, is published by Penguin, priced £5.99. Address your problems to him at campaign@ or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.


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