Erwin Ephron: Impact of a Media Heavyweight

January 10, 2014by hiebing2021

We start 2014 one media icon lighter, with the loss of Erwin Ephron last year. There’s a void in the marketing world with his passing, but his groundbreaking work has been an absolute game changer with media marketers and will be realized for generations to come. I never had the pleasure of meeting Erwin, but I certainly have learned from many of the people whom he inspired and have spent countless hours reading and interpreting his work.

Erwin, a one-time PR guy for Nielsen, transformed into a true Media Guru. He was the father of Recency Planning, preaching to the world that not all impressions were created equal. Specifically, that the last impression to reach a consumer before the point of purchase was more valuable than any other. That simple notion fundamentally changed how media was planned during the ’80s.

Instead of increasing media weight to “break through” during a specified period, Erwin encouraged packaged-goods or seasonal companies to spread media impressions out at a lower weight over more “active weeks.” He favored leveraging local media to increase weight levels in specific higher priority markets on top of national media buys, even for national advertisers. He encouraged planners to look beyond television to enlist media vehicles that could provide impressions even closer to the purchase decision (radio, in-store, shopper marketing, etc.).

The same notion that not all impressions are created equal became the backbone for engagement planning and a myriad of models that tried to weight engagement metrics for media decision making. Erwin rejected engagement as a media principle, believing that creating engagement was the role of the message. Many planners who sought to solve the weightier questions involved in media planning during the 1990s and 2000s looked to him for inspiration, education and ultimately validation. Erwin Ephron inspired the generation of media planners that inspire us today.

How has Erwin Ephron’s work impacted you? Share it in the comments.

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