Media All-Stars 2010



By Noreen O'Leary

Last year, TargetCast tcm moved into the same midtown Manhattan space where company co-founder, chairman and CEO Steve Farella started his own media career at Benton & Bowles 33 years earlier. But the switch to a new—and  larger—office did more than bring him full circle. It underscored the success that he and co-founder and president Audrey Siegel have enjoyed since opening the shop in 2002.

What began with just the two principals and no clients has grown to 85 employees and close to $500 million in media planning and spending for marketers including New York Life, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, TIAA-CREF, Expedia and AMC.

Even more impressive: 2009 was TargetCast tcm's best year ever. Despite miserable industry conditions, the company increased its top line 20 percent, according to Farella.

The two credit their track record to staking out a distinctive market position. They started TargetCast tcm, they explain, after the wave of holding-company acquisitions in the '90s left few independent media-buying alternatives to clients who felt unappreciated in mega shops.

"This was an agency started to serve strong, independent brands that weren't getting the attention they deserved at our larger competitors," Farella says.

The agency, which works with comparatively smaller media budgets, is known for its ingenuity, just as its founders are known for their loyalty. In fact, TargetCast tcm, they say, has yet to lose a single client.

"One of the things that most impressed me, and continues to, is the senior-level focus on our business," says Jamie DePeau, svp, marketing at TIAA-CREF, a founding client that left a big agency for the then upstart. "You're not just relegated to junior account people who have worked in media for one year."

It seems even new clients become quick fans. When Paul Leonard joined as vp, brand marketing at Expedia last year, he changed the company's creative and PR partners, but stuck with TargetCast tcm.

"They're superb collaborators—tenacious, responsible and bring a high level of experience," says Leonard. "They're very strong stewards who look at our business as if it was their own."

Farella and Siegel met when Farella ran the Procter & Gamble media business at Benton & Bowles and Siegel had the same role at Saatchi, where she had spent much of her career.

Farella successively headed up media operations at Ammirati & Puris, Wells Rich Greene, Young & Rubicam and DMB&B before leading integrated services at Jordan McGrath Case & Partners. He hired Siegel on P&G at Jordan McGrath and she eventually ran the media department. After Havas asked Farella to create Media Planning Group to house the holding company's media operations, he enlisted Siegel once again.

They share a commitment to partnerships and to growing the company hand in hand with new technologies. TargetCast tcm, for one, partners with a range of creative agencies.

"They have a deep understanding of each brand they work with," says the Burns Group's Mike Burns, "and give you fresh creative perspective. You won't get boilerplate generic media."

In January, TargetCast tcm expanded its digital resources by acquiring Triumph360. To emphasize its importance, Farella and Siegel placed their digital team in the center of the company's new offices, underscoring the dynamism of media.

"I love this business," Siegel says. "It's ever evolving."

Steve Farella and Audrey Siegel photographed by Greg Kessler

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