And Then There's Upfront Season

Business of Life Takes a Look at Media Execs' Sleep Patterns

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perhaps nowhere in the ad world is sleep deprivation more a part of the tradition than in TV's annual upfront market. Tales of all-nighters are de rigueur, but veterans of the airtime-buying bazaar say it doesn't have to be that way, especially these days.

"A lot of it was part of the glamour of the job," said Erwin Ephron, partner at Ephron, Papazian & Ephron. "A lot of it was drama for the sake of drama. I think that's the kind of sizzle that makes it sound good."

Added Gene DeWitt, chairman of DeWitt Media Strategies: "I have to say, in 99% of the cases-I've been doing this for 40 years-there have only been a few upfronts where something was so out of whack that people were making decisions not fully rationally."

But one cable TV executive, who's also put in a decade on the agency side, said the all-nighter regimen of the upfront remains a reality for both the buying and selling side.

"One time we finished at 4:30 [a.m.] and then went to get rooms at the InterContinental," he said of his agency days. "I arrived with a group head-an older woman in her mid-40s-and the look I got from the desk clerk ... she was paying for the room. It was priceless."
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