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TF1 speaks feminine : Making digital click with women

Report
5 min
27/03/2019

Acquisition

With the aufeminin group, TF1 is getting an international digital player with a portfolio of unique brands and content targeted on women. Here we explore this new universe.
By Céline de Buttet
my little

AN INTERNATIONAL
GROUP
MADE IN FRANCE

“I'm a happy man at the head of aufeminin,” smiles Olivier Abecassis, named chairman and CEO of this French group in May 2018. Fully owned by TF1 since November,this gem of abusiness has been growing for a number of years, adding Marmiton and My Little Paristo its operations while expanding internationally. Although aufeminin is a multifaceted group that has reinvented itself several times, the original aufeminin website that spawned it has kept its authenticity and DNA – which means speaking with a woman’s voice. “There’s an activist dimension that I find very appealing,” notes Abecassis.

AN ENGAGED COMMUNITY

Fashion, beauty, lifestyle, cooking, health, parenting, and social issues are all subjects the aufeminin group deals with on the web and social media such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, IGTV1, Triller2, TikTok3, and others. Video has been central to its strategy for three years. “When it comes to the social networks, we are way out in front. We’re the only French media on Triller and TikTok,” notes Laetitia Azi, video manager at aufeminin. All these communities offer a way to interact with large numbers of women of all ages. Together, they constitute the biggest community of women in France and Europe. Engaged and active, they are the source of aufeminin’s strength. “Our community is the key driver of My Little Paris,” says co-founder Anne-Flore Chapellier. “We are attentive to it. We hear from it constantly. All it takes is an email. It’s what our e-commerce launches are built on.”

1. Instagram’s stand-alone vertical video app.
2. An app for creating videos.
3. A Chinese social media app for sharing videos.

MARMITON, THE NO. 1COOKING WEBSITEIN FRANCE
1999: Four friends decide to create a website. Travel? Cooking? They hesitate, but finally cooking wins out: marmiton.org it will be. They devote their evenings and weekends to the site until one of them decides in 2004 to work on it full-time. It’s a place to share helpful ideas for everyday cooking that everyone can use: 70,000 recipes, all contributed by visitors to the site and tested by the Marmiton team. Little by little, new features are added: first videos, next an app, and then the Marmiton magazine in 2010. “The special issue launched for the site’s tenth anniversary was such a success that at our community’s urging, we decided to continue with it,” recalls Claire Debruille, content director at Marmiton. “Today it’s a bimonthly with a circulation of 160,000. It’s surprising to go from digital to paper!” Several themed books have also been published, and Marmiton is available on Alexa, Amazon’s virtual personal assistant. The 20-odd staff members of Marmiton have already met with the TF1 Licences team to talk about partnering in the future. A short program is also in preparation with the TV channel. All projects seasoned to perfection.
1999
Creation of the website aufeminin.com (including the forums), since renamed aufeminin, with French, German, Italian, Spanish, and English versions.
2006
Marmiton joins the aufeminin group.
2007
The aufeminin group, owned at that time by the German group Axel Springer, continues to add content sites with the acquisition of the health and wellness media Onmeda.
2014
Acquisition of My Little Paris.
2015
Acquisition of US-based Livingly, offering lifestyle content and possessing digital expertise.
2018
TF1 acquires full ownership of the aufeminin group.

BUILDING THE AUFEMININ GROUP

MY LITTLE PARIS, A MEDIA AND E-COMMERCE GROUP
A stone’s throw from Paris’ bustling Barbès neighborhood, My Little Paris develops its activities in surroundings that reflect its identity: skylights, muted colors and Liberty prints, green plants, wooden tables, inviting cushions, and cheerful poetic drawings by the Japanese illustrator Kanako Kuno hanging everywhere. Here the company’s 130 employees are inventing a free, agile and new way of communicating. The story began in 2008. Four friends decided to publish a newsletter containing fun and original ideas of things to do in Paris. It was not long before they were adding new topics: My Little Lyon, My Little Marseille, My Little Kids, My Little Wedding... Then came a version for men, Merci Alfred, and one for millennials, Tapage. In December 2011, My Little Paris launched an e-commerce operation called My Little Box, an attractively packaged selection of beauty and decorative items. It was an instant success: the 2,000 boxes all sold in 45 minutes! The boxes are now shipped each month to 150,000 subscribers in France, Germany, and Japan. A year later came the launch of Gambettes Box, which contains two pairs of tights and is sent out each month. In 2019, Gina, a box of 100% organic feminine hygiene products, will be added to the lineup. The entrepreneurial spirit that has shaped the young company from the beginning shows no sign of fading. With Urban Lab, its consulting and creative agency, it is putting its skills to work with its partners and coming up with plenty of ideas for new projects. TF1 is already giving it a hand too. In the autumn, the channel showed the first TV advertisement for the Gambettes Box. Anne-Flore Chapellier, co-founder of My Little Paris is delighted: “We’re now benefiting from a unique presence in three channels television, digital, and e-commerce.”
En train de changer le monde
The acquisition of aufeminin is a decisive new step in the TF1 group’s transformation. We are strengthening our capacity to reach all audiences, and women in particular, and to offer new communications solutions to the brands.”
Gilles Pélisson,
chairman and CEO of TF1

A DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

Creation of Studio71, buyout of Neweb, MinuteBuzz, aufeminin, and just recently, Doctissimo (a health and wellness site): TF1 is moving steadily ahead with its digital transformation. “With the acquisition of the aufeminin group, TF1 can now propose tailored offerings to its advertisers thanks to our diverse and very engaged communities,” says Abecassis. “As for TF1, which remains highly dependent on advertising, our e-commerce business represents a new source of non-advertising revenue.” And the aufeminin group? Well, it henceforth has the support of the largest seller of advertising space in the market. “We are now part of a powerful digital ecosystem that will enable us to respond to competition in a way nobody else can,” notes Jennifer Alimi, vice president of sales at aufeminin.

The teams are working on synergies and the pooling of resources. The studios of MinuteBuzz and Studio71 are already available to aufeminin, which is also sharing its Facebook page with LCI to increase the visibility of both. The TV film on Jacqueline Sauvage, aired on TF1 in October, was heavily promoted by aufeminin, which is very involved in the issue of violence against women. The site invited the film’s lead actress, Muriel Robin, to be its editor in chief for a day. There is no shortage of opportunities for synergy. For instance, aufeminin is hoping to benefit from TF1’s production know how to create original series. TF1 is not done expanding in the digital world. In November, for example, it took a majority stake in Gamned!, a pioneer and expert in programmatic media buying, a highly efficient, selective, and automated technique the TF1 group plans to use to reach the audiences of all its digital entities.