Laurent Broca, CEO of Havas Media France, explains the agency’s recently developed Carbon Impact Calculator, which will help our clients analyse the carbon impact of their advertising activities.
The tool, which was created in collaboration with EcoAct, is an owned and exclusive measurement system for Havas Media France to calculate the real impact of its clients’ campaigns on all media (press, television, radio, billboards, digital).
Here, Laurent explains the development of the Carbon Impact Calculator and how it pushes forward Havas Group’s sustainability goals within Havas Positive Impact.
What is the Carbon Impact Calculator? Can you tell us about its development?
The inception of this began in 2019. One of our Associate Managing Directors, who runs several of our biggest accounts, anticipated that there would be a client demand to produce data surrounding the carbon impact of their advertising activities and multimedia campaigns. We believed this demand was only going to grow as we moved forward. Alongside the Head of HR here, we sought out EcoAct, a firm that specialises in producing information surrounding carbon impact. They are an amazing partner, but not specialists in terms of communication, so we really had to bring each of our specialties to the table in order to build this tool! Together, we eventually settled for an approach for each category of media (press, television, radio, billboards, and digital).
It was a complex process because, for instance, the components to calculate the carbon impact of out-of-home, are not the same as television; the components that create television’s carbon footprint are not the same as digital’s. Then, for each category of media, we identified the factors that trigger the carbon footprint impact and began to define grids before filling them with relevant information for calculation. For some media, it was very easy, but for media like out-of-home, we had to directly approach each of the media owners and acquire this information. That is when it became a bit more difficult!
We had a soft launch in Q2 of 2020 and a hard launch in Q3 of 2020, when we began to calculate the carbon footprint for our clients’ campaigns. This allowed us to test the waters and gave us some benchmarks to work with. For example, for our client Orange (the telecommunications company), we calculated the carbon footprint of one of their major campaigns at the end of 2020. We presented Orange with the carbon footprint for each media category and for the entire multimedia campaign combined. It was quite interesting because we were able to equate the carbon footprint of this campaign to something tangible, in this instance, 300 return air journeys from Paris to Rio!
When was the Carbon Impact Calculator launched and how has it been received?
The thing about the calculator is, it does not aim to patronise, but to give Havas and our clients consciousness. Clients want to know the impact they are having on the planet. The Carbon Impact Calculator not only serves our clients, but also serves Havas Media, because sustainability is one of the six pillars of Havas’ CSR policy, Havas Positive Impact. The calculator is not about pitching one media against another, it’s about raising consciousness. The goal is to try and bring our carbon footprint down and try to find solutions with advertisers, clients and media owners. We want to virtuously work together and improve our carbon footprint overall.
Because we were early in the market, and the first to launch a calculator like this, we had conversations with different media houses and media owners who have now approached the same firm we collaborated with to produce our calculator. For example, TF1 has done that, and our own Vivendi partner Canal +. Progressively the market is moving toward building capabilities to evaluate carbon footprints to see what they can do with that data to make a change or make a difference.
What are the goals for the Carbon Impact Calculator, and could it be extended to Havas clients internationally?
The creative division for Havas in Paris has also used the Carbon Impact Calculator for their activities. Right now, we have a go to market approach, and we can offer clients the use of our Carbon Impact Calculator. The goal for 2021 is to enrich this solution by helping our clients compensate for this carbon footprint. We are working on making the calculator more user friendly and working on extending its reach. Although the calculator has been focused on France, international clients have enquired about it. I think there will be demand from Havas clients all over the world and that we will have to consider rolling it out in other regions.
How does this tool help Havas Group’s goal to make a meaningful difference?
The carbon calculator is an interesting addition to everything that Havas Group has been doing under Havas Positive Impact and we’ve seen some very smart and bold moves being taken across the network. Sustainability is a strong priority for our Group.
This calculator was recognised in the Media Agency of the Year Awards, where it won a CSR special prize. It was the very first in the market and I think whilst it’s not directly contributing to business, it lets clients know what we stand for at Havas. The calculator is something that we want to keep professionalising, enriching and sharing with the rest of the network.