NEW YORK: Erwin Ephron, one of the most influential media planning consultants of the past few decades, died on Sunday at the age of 79.

Known for his insight and quick wit, he suffered a long illness following a fall earlier this year and the industry has been quick to pay tribute to a legacy that included his championing of the concept of "recency".

"[He was] a brilliant, creative, hard-working writer who stimulated all to think more clearly about media," said Gale Metzger, a long-time friend and associate, in comments to MediaPost.

Starting his career as a PR for Nielsen, his long media career included work at BBDO and his agency of Ephron, Raboy & Tsao, before forming his own consultancy in the early 1990s.

As recalled by Advertising Age, he was honoured by the American Demographics Magazine in 2003 as being one of the five most influential media people of the past 25 years.

Apart from his public speaking, consultancy and witticisms, Ephron was probably best known for developing the radical notion of "recency" in the mid-1990s, which helped to free major advertisers from spending huge sums trying to reach all consumers all of the time.

By arguing against "reach" and "frequency", Ephron held that it was more important to reach consumers at the point at which they were most likely to buy as opposed to just reaching them often.

The theory was detailed in his 1997 article in the Journal of Advertising Research. Ephron described "recency" planning as "the sensible idea that most advertising works by influencing the brand choice of consumers who are ready to buy".

A fuller obituary detailing Erwin Ephron's legacy will be published in the December issue of the Journal.

Data sourced from Advertising Age, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff