Opinion: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: Should a self-regulatory code of practice be agreed by publishers to limit the degree to which photos are retouched in order to avoid the promotion of unrealistic and unachievable notions of beauty to women?

A: What an excellent idea - and timely, too. Publishers should get together with some urgency and appoint a cross-industry taskforce to draft such a code. Failure to do so will simply provoke the Government into imposing its own mandatory regulations - and just think how unworkable they would be.

In a spirit of helpfulness, I'm listing below a couple of the intermediate calculations the taskforce will need to make if the code is to be unambiguous, objective, measurable, easily administered and willingly adopted by all relevant parties.

- Perhaps based on pixel distribution, the degree of permissible image manipulation must be quantified and agreed. Allowance will naturally have to be made for disparities between original images: it would clearly be unreasonable for the same limitations, unless calculated proportionately, to be imposed on images of both Lily Cole and Dawn French.

- In order to establish the precise point at which notions of beauty become unrealistic and unachievable, it will first be necessary to establish what degree of manipulation, if any, is deemed realistic and achievable. And, of course, by whom: since the expectations of any individual will inevitably be significantly affected by his or her own age, height and bodyweight. A simple formula will need to be devised and agreed that effectively eliminates the otherwise troublesome factor of subjectivity.

Once these two fundamental determinants have been established (and an equitable funding mechanism put in place), the rest should be a matter of easily administered logistics.

Thank you again for the suggestion. Publishers will have much to remember you by.

Q: I've just become the chief executive of an agency and I need to promote myself in the industry. How should I do it?

A: If your promotion to chief executive was well earned, then over the years you'll have given much good advice to your clients. One such piece of advice will certainly have been: "Advertising is worth doing when you've done something worth advertising. Don't waste time and money on promotion until you can point to tangible achievement."

This is such good advice that I feel sure you'll apply it to yourself. Won't you?

Q: How do so many people manage to phone the Nabs Help Line when no-one knows what Nabs does?

A: If you will allow me to say so (and even if you won't), your question is wholly typical of all smug, self-centred and insensitive people who, however bafflingly, continue (at least for the moment) to survive in this trade of ours; a trade that demands precisely the opposite qualities and characteristics. People who are best at our trade have a deep and instinctive understanding of what it's like to be people other than themselves. They don't use the word empathy because they think it poncy - but that's what they have, in spades. You clearly haven't. I'm forced to conclude, therefore, that you're not very good at what you do.

You're also dumb. As anyone of intelligence would realise, the reason so many people phone the Nabs Help Line (0845 602 4497) is because they're in need of help: in real need of real help. And people in real need of real help will always find where to find it. So they do: and they call 0845 602 4497 or they log on to support@nabs.org.uk. And they get it.

This year, for gratingly obvious reasons, more people will be in need of more help than for a very, very long time. (Come to think of it, such is the scale of your solipsism, you may be the only person in the country unaware that we're now in the foothills of the most savage recession for more than 100 years. Source: Ed Balls.)

If you honestly don't know what Nabs does, go at once to nabs.org.uk. Then exercise such imagination as you possess and try to understand what it feels like to be out of a job, bullied at work, baffled by application forms, bowed by bereavement - or desperately needing to share a flat so that you can afford to accept the place you've at last been offered.

And finally, if you're at all interested in redemption, join in. Give your time, your interest, your support, your public enthusiasm and a great deal of money. Recruit such friends as you may have retained.

When you've done all that, I much look forward to hearing from you again.

- "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@haymarket.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.