Tonton Santiago heads new media agency: TMCR

Anthonette Santiago, former general manager of Mediaforce Vizeum, has launched a new media agency that hit the ground running with a healthy roster of clients just months since its debut.

Silently leaving the Aegis Media network last October, Santiago shared with Marketing that she has been busy setting up Total Media Connections and Relations, Inc. (TMCR), which was officially opened in January.

Fondly called “Tonton” by the industry, Santiago said TMCR was inspired by her former clients back at Mediaforce Vizeum and close friends. She admitted that leaving the industry for good did cross her mind, but the respect she earned from her storied career and new opportunities was hard to turn down.

Just eight months in the market, she said that TMCR and its staff of around 10 people have already secured 85% of its revenue target for the year with five clients onboard, two of them secured via a pitch.

Other clients TMCR is working with are special projects for Kawasaki Motors, Insular Life, Mapfre and Bancnet.

Santiago said that their wins were not “muscled by reputation” – an achievement that the 15-year old media veteran was proud to point out.

“I have established and maintained relationships with many brands but friendship alone won’t win a pitch. We earned their trust and the business by giving what they need and keeping our promises.”

TMCR won Heinz’s Lea & Perrins brand following a three-way pitch with Mediaforce Vizeum and Omnicom last March. The established agencies, with the addition Maxus, met TMCR again in another pitch a month after, with Santiago emerging as media AOR of Systems Technology Institute (STI) College.

At this stage, Santiago said that they are putting regional ambitions aside to focus on local SMEs – what she considers as an opportunity ripe for the picking.

“Regional accounts are not our concern. It shouldn’t be, for now. To my surprise, there are a lot of local accounts that are yet to be tapped. It’s a missed opportunity, really. It will grow in numbers as the economy gets better and agencies should keep an eye out for it.”

While her focus will be growing a portfolio of local brands, she quickly pointed out that expanding out from the Philippines is inevitable once TMCR reaches scale. Asked what key roles TMCR will be adding in the next couple of months, she said that they are on the hunt for media strategists and a digital agency partner.

On what sets TMCR apart, Santiago explains that it is “malasakit,” a Filipino word which roughly translates to “genuine concern,” which she believes is treasured by clients and, unfortunately, neglected by a numbers-driven industry.

“Agencies really shine during pitches but it’s quite a shame that for all that effort, clients usually leave their partners often after a year. Why is that?” she quipped.

“The most important thing is to deliver on promises, but to be keep clients coming back, agencies need to be pro-active, think out of the box, or even out of their budgets. Consider us not as an agency but a business partner that is as excited and eager as our clients are.”