Sylvia Tassan Toffola

Managing Director of TF1 PUB and President of SRI




How is the TF1 group’s engagement reflected on the advertising airtime sales side ?

We share the same desire to enlighten society positively. Just like our broadcast output, commercials can be marvellous vectors for transition, and a trump card for brands that are engaged and want people to know about it. Most of our clients now demand engagement: they expect their partners to be as engaged as they are. What we do internally and in our programmes builds trust and transparency with our advertisers.

We have a track record on this going back several years, through our drive to deliver advertising that is engaged, responsible and sustainable.

We raise awareness among our agencies and advertisers in various ways, for example at conferences (TF1 Campus events) or through innovative initiatives created with trusted third parties, such as the French environment and energy management agency ADEME.

Has TF1 PUB transformed itself too ?

Of course. To address environmental transition and social equity as effectively as possible, we needed a new dynamic. So we did what no ad sales house had done before: we set up a working group, where committed volunteers from our own ranks work alongside Sidièse, France’s go-to sustainable development communication agency. From this group emerged a roadmap to 2025, constructed jointly with our stakeholders: clients, agencies and advertisers, charities, and industry representatives. And we have implemented an internal action plan to reduce our carbon footprint with numerous initiatives, such as training on eco-tips for our staff.

What are your responsible communication offers?

We have constructed offers reserved for products that meet precise criteria validated by ADEME, such as the “EcoRespons’Ad” launched in 2019. And we routinely devise bespoke campaigns to highlight brands’ messages, with robust or impactful content. From a technical perspective we provide support to advertisers wishing to eco-design their ad spot, and we also offer a tool to calculate the carbon footprint of campaigns. We get a real buzz out of exploring the range of possible options: we want to put our strike force at the service of sustainable consumption. That’s the entire rationale behind the “Ecofunding” initiative we are setting up.

“Ecofunding” is a completely new departure. How does this advertising fund work?

We wanted to innovate by setting up an unlimited 100% environmentally-friendly fund. It’s a virtuous circle: brands can contribute to it by marketing products and services with the ADEME logo. Then TF1 PUB pays into the fund, which will be used to finance public information campaigns advocating sustainability and responsible consumption.

Thanks to this kind of initiative, advertising is able to move beyond commercial and competitive logic to affirm its positive impact.

Are your activities compatible with charitable giving ?

Every year we donate 111€ million to charities by making advertising airtime available to them free of charge . In 2020, we were the first to launch TV ads with an interactive click-though charitable giving option: in a single year, our partnership with the start-up Goodeed led to €265,000 being paid to charity partners. We also facilitate access to our channels for small advertisers, and new engaged players: I’m thinking of the circular and solidarity economy, for example.

Is the world of advertising ready for change ?

Advertising messages are already changing. Between September and end November 2020 out of 3,200 ad spots, 13% dealt with “environmental transition” or “practical CSR actions”. The challenge for our sector is to prevent the sense of urgency turning into a headlong dash. We need to preserve consistency and remain in control: what’s needed is a transition of the advertising model itself, not just a change in commercial policy designed to obtain a competitive edge. To achieve this we need to develop an industry-wide dynamic. We are involved in discussions and initiatives within the industry; for example, we have worked with the SRI (the French online advertising industry body) to define a common methodology for calculating the carbon footprint of advertising campaigns. Only by co-operating can we change practices while protecting everyone’s interests.