For those creative people who actually want to earn money from their work, the advertising industry is often an attractive career option.

The show Mad Men, based at the peak of the industry, has perhaps added to the glamour, even though these days there’s a lot less daytime drinking!

Despite some contractual difficulties threatening to derail the show, AMC’s flagship show returned for another series last week. It is now only shown on Sky Atlantic here in the UK (it was previously shown on BBC4). This means only about 100,000 people watched it, around a quarter of the previous UK audience. Indeed, I only managed to see it myself because I was invited round to watch it by friends.

The new channel also means it is interrupted by adverts. Ironically, one of the pleasures of watching it on the BBC was the lack of ads. However Sky were clever about it – they showed classic ads from the UK and the US, and there were far fewer ads than normal. This was a nice touch to allow viewers to acclimatise to the show’s new home.

How Advertising Has Changed

Anyway I won’t spoil the plot of the new episodes for those who haven’t seen them yet. Instead I thought I’d share an interesting RSA talk on how advertising has changed since the days of Mad Men.

It’s full of interesting insights for example, apparently people now care a lot more if brands are contributing positively to the wellbeing of society as a whole, including the environment, though this differs depending on geographical location.

According to Sam Delaney, who wrote a book about the British equivalent of the original Mad Men, what the men he spoke to had in common was that they were all:

Hugely determined, massively talented and almost psychopathically ambitious.

Of course they also acknowledge that developments in technology and the explosion of creativity online has made it harder and harder to ‘break through’ with a creative advertising idea, and that clever strategy is now a major aspect of the creative professional’s role.

You may also like this game based on the show, which is featured briefly in the latest episode of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries.