Champions Series: A Salute to Jerry Sachs: Jerry Sachs’ energy and ideas have helped shape the kids’ market

Through good times and better times, Jerry Sachs has been bringing his own special brand of unshakable optimism and enthusiasm to the business of advertising. KidScreen salutes Sachs and the impact he's made over the past four decades in the industry....
June 1, 1996

Through good times and better times, Jerry Sachs has been bringing his own special brand of unshakable optimism and enthusiasm to the business of advertising. KidScreen salutes Sachs and the impact he’s made over the past four decades in the industry. The salute also marks the beginning of ‘The Champions Series,’ an on-going KidScreen feature that will recognize the contributions of industry leaders.

If you catch Jerry Sachs in the office and ask about business, don’t expect a lot of equivocating or meek understatement.

‘How are things?’ you may ask.

‘If things get any better, there will be an investigation on Capitol Hill!’ he will likely respond.

Through good times and better times, Jerry has been bringing his own special brand of unshakable optimism and enthusiasm to the business of advertising. And he’s been doing it for nearly 40 years.

Jerry began his career in advertising while still a student at City College in New York City. He took on a part-time job compiling statistical research for the media buyers at J.D. Tarcher & Co. He joined the company full-time after graduation and worked there for five years.

Then he took a break from the business to serve in the army. After two years of perfecting his German in post-war Hamburg, Jerry came back to civilian life in New York and landed a job as a media buyer for Cecil and Presby.

In early ’56 Jerry moved to an up-and-coming ad agency by the name of Doyle Dane Bernbach. At DDB, Jerry handled buys for Gallo Wine and Max Factor.

As challenging as those early days at DDB were, Jerry was not content to sit still. He enrolled in night classes at NYU to get a master’s degree, and it was there that Jerry met Bunnie Fagan, the young woman who would become his wife of now close to 40 years.

Paul Klein, an old friend from Jerry’s DDB days, recalls when Jerry met Bunnie. ‘Jerry told me he had met a really smart lady who worked for Coty Cosmetics and that I should hire her for my department.’

About three years after joining DDB, the agency decided to expand to the West Coast and sent Jerry to work in its new Los Angeles office. It was there that Jerry began to work on the toy accounts that launched his career in children’s marketing.

In the early ’60s Jerry saw the natural potential of using television as a marketing tool to reach children. Jerry and Bunnie decided that regardless of the risk, the time was approaching for Jerry to capitalize on his now-considerable expertise in marketing to kids and launch his own shop.

The Sachs name went up on the door in 1963, and it has been there ever since.

Today Jerry is president of Sachs Finley & Company, a full-service agency devoted exclusively to the children’s market. Sachs’ client roster includes Playmates, Playmates Interactive Entertainment, Ertl, Team Concepts and Tomy.

Jerry’s knowledge of the children’s market and his energetic search for new ideas led him to innovations that have had industry-wide implications. Foreseeing the potential for synergy between television programming and merchandising, Jerry established Sachs Family Entertainment (SFE) in 1984 as a specialist in the development and distribution of children’s programming.

Jerry’s foray into entertainment began with successful syndication and licensing launches for Blackstar and Robotech. SFE later combined forces with the toy company Playmates to take Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from a cult comic strip to a worldwide licensing and television phenomenon.

On the network front, SFE has also represented the licensing of such high-profile kids programs as Little Dracula to Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to CBS, and Skeleton Warriors to CBS.

And, SFE has become a player in international partnerships. In conjunction with its client Ertl, SFE successfully syndicated Blinky Bill, an animated series from Australia’s Yoram Gross Film Studios, which launched in the U.S. as a weekly in September 1994 on stations covering 90 percent of the country. This past fall, SFE paired Blinky Bill with another successful Australian property, Bananas in Pajamas for an hour block Monday to Friday. Bananas in Pajamas has been renewed for a second season next fall.

Beyond his reputation as a leader in the ‘kids’ biz,’ Jerry has a personal reputation for generosity and kindness that extends throughout the advertising and media community.

It is easy to see why the number of people who count Jerry among their friends is legion. The size of his fan club is a natural extension of his philosophy of business. There are no insignificant people in Jerry’s book. Every call is worth taking. And kindness is an investment with a guaranteed return.

Jerry’s clients and colleagues throughout the industry know him as an all-round businessman, someone who is as knowledgeable and concerned with the potential return on investment on a new toy product as he is in developing marketing campaigns.

‘Jerry has a great overall business perspective,’ says a colleague. ‘It’s one of the reasons he’s been able to build and maintain so many long-term business relationships.’

The close relationships that Jerry has established over the years apply equally to people within his organization. He is the kind of person who will walk the halls and take the time to talk to anyone.

He is described by a close colleague as ‘one of the fairest people that I’ve ever come in contact with. His sense of fair play comes out in everything he d’es. Jerry can be tough when he needs to be, but that never prevents him from weighing all sides of the issue.’

Jerry Sachs has had the good fortune to be able to make a living doing something that he loves. Anyone who has met him and spent time with him will surely testify to that.

In his own words, ‘the old man has been on one hell of a roll.’

And without doubt, the ‘old man’ will just keep rolling along for many years to come.

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