Opinion: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: My agency insists on no individual credits for work that appears in the trade magazines. I think this is a bit pretentious and actually want to be credited for my own work. Should I say something?

A: Does its policy apply to awards as well, I wonder? (Or maybe your agency doesn't win any, so you wouldn't know.)

Agencies' insistence on anonymous attribution is prompted by many different motives - though I must say I've never thought it particularly pretentious. The high-minded justification, of course, is the belief that the credit for great work is indivisible. Take any piece of great work and - before the myths of time obscure the truth forever - submit it to ruthless, retrospective dissection. Here are just a few of the candidate contributors. An innovative product; an inspired insight from the planner; a nudge or two from the creative director; a shared whittling down of 27 incontinent ideas; a thought provoked by the focus group de-brief; an almost invisible tweak from an almost invisible account person; and the entirely serendipitous application of a brand-new bit of post-production wizardry. Under these circumstances, to give a single writer and a single art director total and unqualified credit is, or so the argument goes, an unjust simplification of an untidy reality.

A less high-minded motive is seldom admitted. It's called poaching paranoia. Let those creative johnnies grab all the credit and the next thing you know they'll be wooed away, boasting of their fabulous riches in the agency pub and leaving a bunch of mediocre discontents behind them.

The more neurotic managements will be convinced that a creative team enjoys a reputation vastly in excess of its delivery while being simultaneously distraught at the thought of losing them.

To get your own agency to change its policy, you'll therefore need to persuade them that you're not as talented as they thought you were; and that they could easily survive - and even prosper - without you.

Wonder if it's worth it.

Q: I've been an account manager for five years at the same agency and I'm getting bored. I like the people I work with but I'm getting frustrated by the lack of internal opportunities for anyone who's not a mate of one of the senior management team. Whenever a new job comes up that I might be interested in, it gets filled by one of those that spends their time sucking up to him rather than (like me) doing any work. What should I do?

A: The first bit of advice I shall give you is to stop reading this now because you're not going to like what I have to say one little bit. OK? Stopped? Right. Then let me continue.

We are at our most creative and ingenious when explaining how it is that other people, of roughly the same age, experience and qualification, always seem to be so much more appreciated than we are. You have chosen an old and favoured line of argument. It's founded on the fiction that the working world can be neatly divided into two camps: The Creeps and The Goodies.

It goes like this. Senior Management people are so lonely, so insecure, so desperate for affection, that they are easy prey for Creeps. Creeps are not known for subtlety nor do they need it. They flatter shamelessly, laugh admiringly and feed the famished selfesteem of the top bananas with hot-and-cold running sycophancy. In return, they are rewarded with all the tasty new assignments. Meanwhile, unrecognised and unrewarded, The Goodies toil. How very unfair.

But let's just pull focus very slightly. The working world (particularly the agency working world) can still be neatly divided into two camps: but now let us call them Life Enhancers and Wet Blankets. Not always the most conscientious of people, Life Enhancers nevertheless bring wit and optimism to every circumstance. No wonder top bananas love them. By contrast - worthily, accurately and always in writing - Wet Blankets itemise the difficulties that will be encountered when doing just about anything.

Were you still reading - and I bet you're glad you're not - I'd invite you to undertake some serious self-examination.

Q: My procurement chief tells me my company is spending almost 50 per cent more on production services than we need to. What's more, he's convinced he can negotiate a preferential deal directly with the production agency. What does my creative agency add to the production process to justify its mark-up on my print and poster ads?

A: The reason that you're paid more than your procurement chief is that you are expected to make crucial judgments about immeasurable matters.

- "Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone (020) 8267 4683. Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via campaign@haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.