The Methods and Benefits of Erwinism -- Bill Harvey

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This is an excerpt from my approximate remarks at the ARF-led tribute to Erwin Ephron hosted at the offices of Simulmedia on December 5.

Erwin Ephron left a message for us all.

At the time, I never thought I would be reporting it in a venue like this, nor did I even realize that it was a message for us all.

The last time I spoke with Erwin, he reached me at a room in the Grand Hyatt about six months before his passing. He said that he had been trying to reach me because he felt that he and I still had some work to do together for the ARF. When probed he revealed that the key word was Simplicity.

He wanted us to work with the ARF to return to the basics of proof, sales results and language that the C suite wouldn’t have to merely pretend to understand.

That last part of Erwin’s message sounds a lot like what ARF CEO Gayle Fuguitt has been trying to tell us. Gayle may have been channeling Erwin.

We should encourage our teams to read Erwin for a lesson both in what we know about how advertising works and in how to talk about it. I recommend his book Media Planning (available on Amazon), and the ARF Media Model, which we worked on together. ARF has located the Erwin archive and will be making it available in perpetuity online.

The 21st century ARF Model: I did the first draft and Erwin did the last, completely replacing most of the language to bring out each idea more strongly. The ideas of Jim Spaeth, Bill Moran, Dennis Maroney, Phil Brandon, me and Erwin all shine through his exquisite use of natural language. The Model is something Erwin felt deserved more attention.

We were not just inputting our own ideas in the model but fusing them with the work of the people who had put the original ARF Model together between 1948 and 1953. We stood on the shoulders of giants in order to see farther. Erwin’s Model contains the whole racial memory of the media and advertising research species.

Getting our teams to read Erwin will have far-reaching benefits. It will instill a common lingua franca across the industry that is rooted in simplicity of communication and actual sales results. Researchers will learn to put one idea on each slide, and not have 100-slide decks with the Executive Summary at the end. The action implications will be clear right from the beginning.

The C suite will give a seat at the table to research, and more of the work of research will actually be used in making the right decisions. These goals set forth by Gayle will be met as a result of absorption of the master’s method throughout the industry.

View these videos featuring industry leaders and legends sharing their remembrances of Erwin Ephron.

Bill Harvey is a well-known media researcher and inventor who co-founded TRA, Inc. and is itsBill HarveyStrategic Advisor. His nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute runs his weekly blog on consciousness optimization. Bill can be contacted at

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