Creative CampaignsMarketing

This Girl Can: The Marketing Campaign That Could

21 . 08 . 15

Have you heard the slogan ‘This Girl Can’? Chances are, you probably have. Sport England’s marketing campaign to get more women into sport has been one of the most successful campaigns of the year.

Just look at the #ThisGirlCan hashtag on Twitter to see the lasting impact the campaign has had since launching in January 2015. The social reach has exceeded 23million.

The challenge

The campaign was created to inspire women to challenge the cultural assumptions about femininity that prevent them from engaging in sport and exercise. Sport England’s aim was to encourage more women to take part, as their research showed that two million fewer women aged 14 to 40 exercise compared to men of the same age; yet 75% of women say they want to be more active.

Digital marketing can help to spread the message that women needn’t worry about fear of judgement (one of the main reasons stopping them exercising) and quite literally, get on that bike, or road, or court.

It’s important for the British nation to embrace exercise and healthy lifestyles, as obesity is currently a bigger threat to the NHS than smoking. Half the UK population could be obese by 2050 at a cost of £50 billion per year according to the NHS. 

The campaign

The campaign is based around a film, created by FCB inferno, showing women of all sizes and sporting abilities taking part in various sports and exercises and, more importantly, enjoying themselves.

The campaign uses “real” people (as opposed to models or professional athletes), which makes it relatable, authentic and believable. Stills of these women from the film were then made into images covered with inspiring messages to distribute digitally and in out-of-house advertising.

The inspiring messages were relatable, such as “I’m slow, but I’m lapping everyone on the couch”, “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” and “I also know the offside rule.”

Another reason the campaign was so successful was because the creative is so flexible – it can be adapted to any woman doing any sport. Sport England is responsible for grassroots sports in England. All the different sporting authorities, societies and clubs could adapt the template of an image of a woman playing their sport and overlay it with an inspiring message and the This Girl Can slogan. It’s a campaign that can really be bought into.

The campaign empowers people to take the message forward themselves as well, as women can take photos of themselves taking part in sport to show their involvement and show that they are a girl that can! This is what had made it such a runaway hit on social media – people feeling like they can get involved themselves.

The results

“Tackling gender inequality requires game-changing work. This Girl Can breaks the rules,” Sharon Jiggins, managing director, FCB Inferno, told the Huffington Post.

“The campaign has changed the written and visual language around exercise, painting a uniquely realistic picture of active women, each with a highly aspirational ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude.

“This has struck a chord with women the world over, inspiring them with the confidence to be more active.”

This Girl Can gained staggering results. According to eConsultancy, within the first three months of launching, over 13m people had viewed the film online. It has garnered over 130,000 Facebook likes, 42,000 followers on Twitter and 5,000 followers on Instagram, totalling a social reach of 23 million, according to eConsultancy.

It was picked up by several media outlets which all gave it positive headlines, growing its reach and publicity:

  • The Independent: “Could #ThisGirlCan be the first female health campaign that doesn’t shame or exclude women?”
  • BBC: “This Girl Can: New campaign urges more women to get active”
  • The Huffington Post: “Sport England’s This Girl Can Campaign Inspires Women To Get Fit By Using Real Woman (Cellulite And All)”
  • The Telegraph: “This Girl Can advert: Scared of working out? Watch this.”

The campaign triumphed at the prestigious Cannes International Festival of Creativity, winning the Glass Lion: The Lion for Change award, beating over 160 entries, and two Gold Lion Health awards for Best Integrated Campaign and Best Film. It also scooped the United Nations Foundation Grand Prix for Good award.

This Girl Can is an inspiring message, which uses a carrot rather than a stick to deliver a positive message. It has got down to the root of the problem of women not wanting to partake in sport: motivation and fear of judgement, and removed those barriers.