Influential Media Planner Erwin Ephron, 79, Dies

Champion of 'recency' rather than frequency

Erwin Ephron, once one of the industry’s most influential media consultants who was widely acknowledged as a force in the development of modern media planning, died Sunday at the age of 79.

Ephron, who began his career at Nielsen, worked at agencies like BBDO in the 1960s before starting his own shop, Ephron Raboy & Tsao and later, media consultancy Ephron, Papazian & Ephron. As a consultant, beginning in the late 1980s when marketers were grappling with increasing fragmentation, he became outspoken about replacing old-school notions of advertising frequency with "recency," a radical planning approach that sought broad and continuous reach, particularly when consumers were in-market for a brand’s advertising message.

In an interview, Ephron once explained it this way: “Recency is a very simple idea. It’s the thought that advertising works on influencing the brand selected by people who are ready to buy the product.”

Ephron received recognition over the years, including numerous honors. He was named One of the Five Most Influential People of the Last 25 Years by American Demographics magazine, was a winner of the Advertising Research Foundation’s Lysaker Award and was elected to the Market Research Council’s Hall of Fame. He also penned a column for Mediaweek in the 2000s called The Blunt Pencil.

Born in New York, he received a BA from Swarthmore College and an MBA in economics from New York University. He is survived by his wife Elaine, daughters Susan Ephron and Rachel Ephron Barenholtz, and son John Ephron, as well as their spouses and four grandchildren.

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