The Madison Avenue portrayed in the TV series Mad Men is still vivid in the imagination of Lance de Masi, the president of the International Advertising Association (IAA) in the UAE.
Mr de Masi says that in his youth he was "infatuated" with the glamour of the US advertising industry of the 1960s, which was recently immortalised on television by the sharp-suited, chain-smoking, heavy-drinking character Don Draper.
DVD copies of the modern-day television show, which tells the story of the fictional Madison Avenue ad agency Sterling Cooper in 1960s America, lay piled up on Mr de Masi's desk.
But the differences between Mr de Masi and Don Draper, the rugged protagonist of the show, could not be starker.
For a start, Mr de Masi's plush office at the American University in Dubai, of which he is also president, is smoke-free. The same cannot be said of the ad agency in Mad Men, which is forever filled with a thick fog of cigarette fumes.
Mr de Masi was born in New York in 1949 and landed his first job in advertising in the late 1970s - making him nearly two decades younger than the generation of executives portrayed in Mad Men.
And by the time the young Lance de Masi walked into his first job at Leo Burnett Chicago in 1977, the real-life mad man of the 1960s had evolved into an altogether different creature.
"The Don Draper of the 1970s would have had an MBA - and that would have probably made him more dangerous," Mr de Masi says. "By the time I started, things had swung in the direction of the rational. MBAs were in high demand in the industry at that time."
Unlike Don Draper, Lance de Masi does have an MBA. He studied for his Bachelor of Arts in New York state before completing MA and MBA degrees at Indiana University.
This made him better able to deal with an advertising industry that he says evolved from the 1960s "creative" era epitomised by Bill Bernbach, the legendary advertising man and co-founder of the agency DDB, into something more accountable to its clients.
"If the 1960s was Bill Bernbach's era, and it was the creative decade, by the mid-1970s, we were into serious number-crunching," Mr de Masi says.
"By the time the 1970s came, clients were far more sceptical. It was an era of more heavy client involvement, both in strategy and in execution. It was less of a 'believe me and trust me, I know what I'm doing because I'm in advertising' era than the '60s."
After his extensive education, Mr de Masi went on to work for some of the world's best-known ad agencies, including the Interpublic Group in Italy and Spain, and BBDO in Cyprus and London.
He moved to Dubai in 1991, where he served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Impact BBDO. But a few years later, Mr de Masi decided to leave the profession and joined the American University in Dubai (AUD) full-time in February 1997. He later became president of the institution.
"I believed that the industry had given me everything that it could give me, and that it was time for me to channel my efforts in another direction, actually for greater fulfilment for me as a person," he says. "I withdrew myself from it because, in my estimation, there was a life after advertising. Unfortunately, some people don't ever get to it. But I did."
So in a sense, Mr de Masi's career has come full circle: from academia to the advertising industry and back again. AUD is based near Dubai Media City, a stone's throw from the regional headquarters of most of the world's biggest advertising companies, as well as the media agencies that control the flow of the Arab world's multibillion-dollar ad industry.
Media City is also home to the UAE chapter of the IAA, to which Mr de Masi was recently re-elected for his second full term as president.
His comfortable and expansive office at AUD speaks volumes about his career. On the walls are framed copies of his diplomas, as well as several artworks. These include paintings Mr de Masi bought during his time in Rome and an old picture of Dubai Creek given to him by his client Gillette in the late 1980s.
Mr de Masi sits on one of several studded-leather chairs and punctuates his conversation with expressive hand gestures and extended pauses for thought.
It is in this setting that Mr de Masi straddles his two worlds: the Middle East communications industry and academia. For while he may have gone full circle in his career, his involvement with the IAA means he has not lost his links to the business of advertising.
"My role at the IAA enables me to look beyond the interests of any single agency, to focus on the industry in a way I never could while I was in the business," he says.
Part of the IAA's agenda for this year is to produce a local code of best practice and also to become more inclusive. The association's UAE division has its fair share of critics, some of whom claim it lacks teeth, while others say it unfairly favours larger agencies.
But despite the criticism of the IAA, Mr de Masi himself appears to attract universal praise from his peers.
Kamal Dimachkie, the managing director at Leo Burnett in the UAE, Kuwait and the lower Gulf, says Mr de Masi "sits at a very interesting intersection in the industry".
"He's brought quite a lot to the party. Lance gets it. He has a really good intellectual grasp of the issues. He's got a very fine understanding of details and nuances," says Mr Dimachkie, who is also a board member of the IAA. "You quickly come to the conclusion that he's a very competent communicator."
Christopher Bell, the chief executive at the Dubai creative agency Face to Face, says Mr de Masi deals successfully with local ad executives.
"He does a very difficult job very well, in terms of managing the egos and personalities of the different people in the advertising industry in a seamless and apparently effortless way," Mr Bell says.
But others say that while Mr de Masi himself deserves credit, the IAA still lacks punch.
"I have a credibility problem with it," says the boss of an independent agency in the UAE, who did not wish to be named. "The IAA isn't really doing anything for us. Whenever I think about joining, I realise that they haven't done anything significant to warrant that."
Mr de Masi says it is part of his ambition to make the IAA more inclusive and open in the topics it debates.
"I would like to see a more diversified membership portfolio. Some agencies are noticeably missing," he says. "I would like to see a more issues-oriented IAA. Have we not historically all been far too polite with one another - at least publicly?"
Mr de Masi says his contact with ad agencies through the IAA helps him keep up to date in his teaching in the marketing and communications course at AUD. But in his tutoring of students, he also draws on his experience from his early days at Leo Burnett - when the reality of working life as opposed to the academic theory first hit him.
"My biggest surprise when I walked into Leo Burnett Chicago on June the 20th, 1977, was the degree of humility that was required on my part. Because with all that education and all that knowledge, I started in this business by adding columns of numbers," Mr de Masi says.
"My job … was performed in a part of the agency that was known as the pit," he recalls. "That was quite far from the sophistication of my education, and quite far from the glamour of Mad Men. But I learnt very quickly that I was never going to become anybody unless I learnt to like the taste of dirt. And the dirt was coming from everywhere."
Decades later, Mr de Masi says part of his job is to help prepare his students for the "dirt" they will encounter in their own careers.
"It's something that you can give people a feel for, through attitude conditioning in the classroom," he says. "I do expose [students] to the fact that clients bring various levels of sophistication, or not sophistication, to the party … And that is something they have to work with."
Mr de Masi has "Italian ancestry for as far back as we can trace it". Dressed in a blue shirt with his sleeves rolled up, he looks younger than his 61 years. He attributes this to daily contact with students. "It's great to be part of the future through observation of 18 to 22 year olds on a daily basis," he says. "That keeps you young, my friend."
Despite his years in the industry, Mr de Masi, who describes himself as "cerebral" and "principles-based", sometimes sounds like the antithesis of what an advertising executive is perceived to stand for.
"I like to develop truths," he says. "I hate the masquerade, I don't like facades; appearance doesn't nearly motivate me to the degree that reality does. And a spade is a spade, and I love spades."
This is not the fictional Don Draper, who put up facades in his personal and professional life.
But Mr de Masi says there is a greater demand for the "kind of transparency with a capital 'T' that people are screaming for" in today's advertising world. And so, he says, his more cerebral approach is more "in vogue".
In an industry struggling with issues with accountability, some may argue that best practice needs to be spelled out more than ever. The Middle East ad market is said by some to lack transparency over fees, commissions and clients' return on investment.
And Mr de Masi, with his twin roles in education and industry, holds great sway over this situation. It will depend very much on him as to whether the next generation of Middle East Mad Men will spurn the masquerade.
Lance de Masi
Family Unmarried with no children. Family lives in the US and Italy.
Early life Born in New York, grew up between there and Madrid
Languages 'Trilingual' in English, Spanish, Italian - and knows a few other languages
Studied for a Bachelor of Artsdegree at St John Fisher College near Rochester, New York, graduating summa cum laude in 1971
Went on to postgraduate study at Indiana University, completing a Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration
Granted a Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Schiller International University in 1997
First job in advertising was at Leo BurnettChicago in 1977; later transferred to the Milan office
In 1983 joined Interpublic Group, working in Italy and Spain
Worked at BBDO in Cyprus and then in London from 1987 to 1991
Moved to Dubai in late 1991, initially working for Impact BBDO before joining the American Universityin Dubai full-time in February 1997
Favourite watch 'I've never given importance to watches … I don't buy by brand'
Favourite car BMW
Favourite restaurant Certo in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City; a fish restaurant in Naples called Dora
Favourite film The Graduate
Preferred music Barbra Streisand, George Michael, Nora Jones
Essential gadgets 'I hate them. I'm not turned on by gadgets. I'm turned on by people'
Key to success 'Intellectual honesty'
Business class or economy? 'By choice, economy. When for business, obviously business'
Philosophy 'My life is a search for opportunities to contribute, for things beautiful - although not necessarily for me to possess things beautiful - and for authenticity in people'
Secret pleasure 'Sighthounds - greyhounds, whippets, salukis, borzoi, afghans. I have always had them, and I always will. My current one is a saluki. He has a Spanish name, Toledo'