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Mad men are also sad men (and women)

Given that ad blockers top the Apple App Store charts as the latest version of iOS debuted, you might think most people held advertising in low esteem. That's nothing compared to the attitudes of those actually in the business.

These days, even the old three-martini lunch wouldn't be enough to raise the spirits of many ad executives and workers. A new survey on morale in the ad industry suggests that more than a third of those working in it are down in the dumps overall, and well over half say morale is lower now than a year ago. The survey of 211 people who worked either at agencies, in-house or as freelancers, was conducted by Campaign US, a publication focused on the ad industry.

Clearly, ad execs are far from finding peace of mind -- or work. According to the survey, 37 percent of respondents said their morale was "low" or "dangerously low," while only 29 percent said it was "good" or "very good." Another 34 percent said their morale was satisfactory. Fifty-eight percent said morale at their firms was lower today than a year ago.

And among those in the low or dangerously low categories, Campaign US found 70 percent were looking for new jobs, while only 20 percent of those where morale was good or very good were job-hunting.

The numbers get more tilted, depending on someone's pay grade. Forty percent of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year reported low morale, versus 35 percent of those making less than $50,000 and 32 percent of those with six-figure salaries.

So much for the days of Don Draper at his apex. Even when he finally became completely disillusioned and went off in search for himself, the lead character from "Mad Men" eventually was supposed to return to create the "greatest commercial ever made," as series creator Matthew Weiner once explained.

It might help to remember that a jaded view can come easily in the ad business. Some of the most cynical, albeit funny, takes on business have come from people in advertising or PR. Shepherd Mead, the author of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," started in the mail room of a major ad agency and eventually worked his way to a vice presidency before chucking it all to write for a living.

But not all executives can develop successful second careers skewering the industry that gave them success in the first place. Maybe what advertisers and their agencies need to do is run an ad to help boost that morale back to healthy levels. That's assuming the workers will see any pitches after installing ad-blocking software on their smartphones and tablets.

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