Dick Gershon, regarded by many as the father of independent media services agencies, quietly passed away last month. He was 79.
Gershon, who died Nov. 15 from a stroke while vacationing with his wife Leslie Gershon, began his career in media at legendary ad agency Benton & Bowles, ultimately rising to media director, before leaving in 1966 to found Independent Media Services.
“For an old Benton & Bowles hand like Gershon, it seemed a fall from grace. It was the age of full-service. In those days we believed the close interdepartmental communication of the full-service structure produced better plans. What a crock,” consultant Erwin Ephron once wrote about the vision of Gershon’s move. “Creative people didn't talk to media people, regardless of where their office was. And media people eventually discovered they were better off talking directly to the client.”
Gershon helped spark a revolution of independent media services that gave birth to other early pioneers, including Western International Media, Vitt Media, SFM Media, and Carat in Europe. By the late 1990s every one of Madison Avenue’s biggest agencies had spun their media departments off into independent media services shops, and the unbundling of media more or less continues to this day.