Sport England launches This Girl Can campaign

Sport England has released a bold new campaign, titled This Girl Can, which aims to encourage women of all sizes and fitness levels to enjoy sport…

Sport England has released a bold new campaign, titled This Girl Can, which aims to encourage women of all sizes and fitness levels to enjoy sport…

The campaign, which includes a TV spot, below, and posters, is the antithesis of the competitive, glossy ads that we are used to from major sports brands and instead stars ordinary women, who come with body parts that may not be entirely firm and muscle-packed.

It was launched in response to research carried out by Sport England which revealed a significant gender gap in exercise levels across the UK apparently, two million fewer 14-40yearold women than men play sport regularly, but 75 percent of women say they want to be more active.

“Research into what’s stopping women turning their ambitions into reality found that a fear of judgement – on appearance, ability or how they chose to spend time on themselves – puts women of all ages off exercising, reads a statement on the Sport England website.

At first glance the ads are refreshing – it feels a relief to find a sports campaign featuring women where bodies wobble, sweat pours and everyone gets visibly out of breath. (Body image and fitness is an issue for men too, of course, as this ad for Nike from 2012 articulated).

A couple of aspects grate though: the tagline This Girl Can is presumably inspired by the success of last year’s Like A Girl film, which aimed to question the use of the expression as a negative, but is ‘girl’ really the best term to address women aged 14-40?

And other copy in the campaign falls flat too. Slogans such as ‘I jiggle therefore I am’ or ‘I kick balls, deal with it’ appear throughout the TV spot and in the posters, yet mostly feel hollow. This is a missed opportunity: in spoofing the tendency for sports brands to make dramatic but meaningless statements in their ads, there was more room for humour here, but only ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’ gets close to raising a smile.

These quibbles aside though, the campaign is a striking one, and uses strong photography and film to articulate an important message.

Credits
Agency: FCB Inferno
CCO: Al Young
Creative director: Bryn Attewell
Creatives: Raymond Chan, Simon Cenamor
Director: Kim Gehrig
Production company: Somesuch

  • Great item. I like the campaign but do agree on you about the slogans. As a girl who has been playing football all her life I am very happy though with the developments in the women sports world. Thanks for the lovely review!

  • Susan Wilson

    I love the campaign, even the captions. They are all true, in everyday parlance. It spoke to me and most of my friends too. Hopefully more of us will get up off the couch and go and do something. It is just what is needed on TV. Sport England should be commended for a more realistic portrayal of every women in sport.

  • I think these adverts are brilliant—also the font is lovely too

  • Gemma

    Fantastic, loved the tv advert got my attention straight away, very inspiring, captions were spot on, funny and true. As a community based fitness instructor teaching mainly Zumba classes dedicated to teaching ladies (and men,) of all ages, fitness levels and sizes I hope the campaign inspires more women to get up n get moving

  • Michael

    Doesn’t need the titles on the film to make the points.

    Should end with the girl on the sofa.

    Other than that it’s not bad.

  • Wandjana

    I love this and think it is just a wonderful piece of work which celebrates women and sport in glorious reality. We need more women in both participatory and elite sports and I couldn’t think of a better way or promoting those aims than this.The author’s comments seem a little churlish to me and I think the whole thing works just perfectly. Let’s hope it inspires all those who see it to get [more] involved.

  • Ad enthusiast

    Why is it one or the other?
    Where do the girls/women/whatever with medium sized figures go to for inspiration? We’re not overweight, we’re not super skinny. There’s no way we can aspire to this kind of advert, it defeats the point. If we aim for the actual sporting adverts we’re shallow.
    What is the industry actually trying to achieve?
    If they can figure it out; maybe society will too. A very unfortunate thing.

  • Absolutely Fantastic – it’s been a long time coming.

  • Karen McRae

    I love this campaign real women real sizes wobbly bits sweat everything real women like myself have and yes sweat like a pig but feel like a fox well done to all the women involved xx

  • A complex brief met by a clever solution. I do wonder if the education system in the UK, which often separates boys and girls sports has a lot to do with it. I’m not long out of school (in my mid-20s), so I assume that boys still play football and rugby, while girls get more opportunities for netball and hockey (etc.)?

  • Gemma

    Fantastic, loved the tv advert got my attention straight away, very inspiring, captions were spot on, funny and true. As a community based fitness instructor teaching mainly Zumba classes dedicated to teaching ladies (and men,) of all ages, fitness levels and sizes I hope the campaign inspires more women to get up n get moving

  • Aberdeen

    I think this is a very strong campaign. It is very inspiring. Most ads that you see for fitness that are targeted towards women feature women who are already fit. For me, when I watch a video or see an ad for fitness with a girl who is already fit, it does not inspire me to work out. Seeing the average girl ride a bike, or play soccer or swim makes me want to get out and try something new, because if they can do it, why cant I? I think this is very powerful because most women get discouraged easily when working out, especially because everything on the internet is videos and pictures are girls who are already fit. I am very happy to see an ad like this put out. It is very motivational for average sized or curvy women. It shows that you do not have to be a size 2 to be healthy and feel good about your body.

  • Jess

    Great advertisement, but where can I get hold of these posters to promote at school please?

  • Tom

    Fantastic work. First campaign I’ve seen in a while that actually makes me feel something. And I’m a boy.