Leading article: Commercial breakdown

= Mad Men =

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It is not so much a case of life imitating art, as life tweaking art by the nose and blowing a raspberry in its face. The go-ahead for a fifth series of the award-winning television show, Mad Men, which chronicles the lives of Madison Avenue advertising executives in 1960s New York, was held up because of a disagreement about... advertising.

The show's producers were reported to have pushed for more product placement in each episode and shorter running times to allow longer advertising breaks. But the creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, was said to have resisted their demands on the grounds of artistic integrity.

If ever there was an excuse for product placement, Mad Men surely provides it. But does too much advertising detract from the impact of this drama, or enhance it? The wisdom of the great advertisers is conflicting. David Ogilvy once warned "do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information". Yet the legendary Hollywood film producer, Joseph Levine, believed that "you can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough."

Perhaps Mr Weiner should close his eyes and ask himself a profound question: What would Don Draper and Roger Sterling advise?

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