This Mum Runs empowers a global network of over 100,000 women to be happier and healthier. As the world’s largest community of its kind, it shows how running can be a catalyst for mums to reclaim valuable headspace, connect with other women, and develop a more positive attitude towards exercise.
By putting all the focus on how running makes you feel, rather than tracking pace or distance travelled in a competitive way, This Mum Runs is proudly accessible and inclusive to all.
As a sports science graduate, sports marketeer and lifelong runner, founder Mel Bound has always had running in her blood. But in 2011, she needed major spinal surgery after several miscarriages. For years, she struggled to manage her grief, depression, and the pressures of daily life as a mum to two young children, and her passion for running fell by the wayside.
We wanted to show that we understand the pressures on mums’ lives and the barriers to exercise. It’s about feeling part of a community that ‘gets it’
In 2014, she posted a desperate plea on Facebook for running buddies – and 75 mums turned up to her local park in Bristol to meet her. The overwhelming response to her Facebook post was a lightbulb moment for Bound: mums everywhere struggled with many of the same issues. She wasn’t alone. Six months later, she quit her job and launched This Mum Runs.
Now, hundreds of free runs take place twice a week across the UK and beyond, with coaching programmes developed “by mums, for mums” to respond to the unique challenges involved – from managing the physical changes to women’s bodies after having kids, to the pressures and hectic schedule of daily life.
In 2020, This Mum Runs packaged up its unique approach in app form, giving mums around the world access to the same expert coaching and support, wherever and whenever they find the time and space to get their running shoes on.
This Mum Runs has a really clear idea about the women they are talking to: who they are, what they care about, and what they struggle with
For our On Brief project, we commissioned graphic designer, animator and illustrator Eilidh Reid to create a set of animations to raise awareness and drive downloads of This Mum Runs’ new Run30 app across Facebook and Instagram.
In collaboration with CR, Facebook and This Mum Runs developed a brief and messaging for the campaign, based on how the app helps mums from all walks of life overcome daily challenges in their own way. Reid then created a series of short animations to bring this messaging to life.
“This Mum Runs is at a tipping point in its journey to create a world where all women enjoy the life-changing benefits of being active,” explains Bound.
“Through the creative, we wanted to show that we understand the pressures on mums’ lives and the barriers to exercise,” she says. “It’s about feeling part of a community that ‘gets it’ and empowering them to invest time in themselves.”
It’s a worthy message and Bound is wary of appearing too serious in its delivery. “Part of the brief was to communicate a lighter, more fun energy that we have as a brand but don’t always communicate that well in our advertising,” she adds.
With a playful, colourful animation style, Reid was a perfect fit for the job at hand. “Briefing Eilidh was a joy,” Bound says. “She had an instant understanding of – and deep empathy with – the women we support. We shared our plans and she was off. The first round of scamps was pretty much spot on.”
Certain phrases in how Bound described This Mum Runs’ mission – such as ‘paying it forward’ and ‘creating a headspace’ – immediately sparked off concepts. “My brain just started ticking with ideas,” recalls Reid. A particularly crucial ingredient was a set of three personas This Mum Runs had compiled: three mums with very different lived experiences, but all of whom could benefit from running in some way.
“This Mum Runs has a really clear idea about the women they are talking to: who they are, what they care about, and what they struggle with,” confirms Devin. “This helped us come up with an idea that would really speak to these women.”
These personas were given names to really bring them to life: Bev, Jess and Karen. “They’re women that maybe all of us can relate to in some way,” says Bound.
“Bev has a negative view of health and fitness because of previous experience of sport,” she explains. “She doesn’t identify as sporty, so doesn’t believe exercise can be for her.” And because she has never exercised regularly, Bound continues, Bev is more likely to be overweight and must overcome emotional as well as physical barriers, particularly a lack of self-belief and a fear of embarrassment.
“Jess has some fitness knowledge, and maybe exercised pre-kids but hardly ever does now,” Bound adds. “She has a balanced attitude to health and fitness but feels out of shape.”
For Jess, one of the biggest barriers to exercise is a lack of time, and she struggles to grant herself permission to prioritise it. “What Jess craves most is a bit of time to herself – some headspace,” she adds.
The third persona, Karen, already exercises regularly. “She values it as a way of keeping some balance in her life, but time is an issue for Karen too,” says Bound. “She fears loss of control of her life the most, and exercise is a way of feeling and doing the best she can.”
Bev, Jess and Karen were the perfect building blocks for Reid. “I knew exactly what to do: personify those characters and split them up into five-second clips to target the right audience for each character,” she explains.
While Reid’s initial thought was to show the narrative of women involved in daily tasks overcoming their challenges in some way through running, it soon became clear that the narrative was too ambitious in the few short seconds she had. “I wanted to make it less literal and more metaphorical,” she explains. “All the things are around them. When they start running, they pop, and they get some headspace.”
To represent the fear that things will fall apart, she chose a wobbling tower of shapes; for work/life balance, a set of tipping scales. “The hardest one was fear of embarrassment; I settled on lots of pointing fingers,” she explains.
“Showing so much understanding of a set of personas in a few short frames is quite a challenge, and we thought Eilidh did it beautifully,” agrees Bound. “We’re sure any woman who sees the animation will find themselves in one of the characters.”
Reid worked frame-by-frame in Photoshop to give her full control, although she admits this made for a time-consuming process. “I started off with a rough run cycle. I wanted to inject their personalities into their runs,” she says. “One does a little slow jog; one does a much more forward-facing, energetic run; and one has a much more bouncy, silly run.”
Once that character-defining movement was nailed down, she moved on to animatics, and then roughs, before smoothing out the final version. This Mum Runs provided a brand palette for Reid to work with, containing lots of dark blues and purples. “I love limited colour palettes,” she says. “Instead of working with lots of colours, I always prefer lots of shades.”
However, as it was designed primarily for CMYK print, the existing brand palette needed an injection of bright RGB colour to help it pop on screen. “Bright cyan and pink lift it all and make it fun,” Reid adds.
The three women are running individually, but then they’re shown together at the end to show the idea of community. This app brings women together
Both Facebook and Instagram are very visual platforms: people scroll fast and make decisions rapidly. According to Lucy Devin, creative strategist at Facebook, ads such as these must deliver their message as quickly and succinctly as possible. “We started with a message that spoke directly to the women, and that would capture their attention,” explains Devin. “Part of the strategy was to vary the duration and format of the ads to show up in both Feed and Stories, and reach people at different moments. Maybe you see the ad in Stories but take action when you see the shorter version tailored for your persona in Feed,” Devin continues.
“It’s all about putting the right creative in front of the right people at the right time.”
In order to make the transition between short and longer-form ads as seamless as possible, Reid introduced a simple tree device to separate the three personas. “It was a clever way to create one asset that could then be edited into shorter ads without much extra work,” explains Devin.
Reid received useful guidance from Facebook during the process, to ensure the ads had maximum effect, such as bringing the first line of text in within the first second to grab attention immediately and stop people scrolling past.
The end card was a particular challenge. It needed to draw all the different elements together quickly and make it immediately clear what action to take: download the app. “The three women are running individually, but then they’re shown together at the end to show the idea of community,” Reid explains. “This app brings women together.”
With a full-time communities manager, This Mum Runs is prolific on social media – managing more than 60 different running communities on Facebook alone. But as a small organisation with limited resources, this was its first experience of commissioning animation to promote its offer. “It was such an interesting process,” explains Bound. “Typically, we use a mixture of UGC and community stories, our own photography, product images and simple graphics. Animation enabled us to convey a lovely sense of gentle movement and the diversity within our community in a really simple way.
“We have a lot to say, and distilling it into a short animation was challenging for me as the brand owner,” she admits. “Eilidh was great at saying, ‘Do you really need that?’ and helping us stay focused on a couple of simple messages, delivered beautifully.”
It was lovely to work with a brand that’s so passionate about helping people. That passion and understanding shines through in the final concept
This was Reid’s first major solo project – by day, she works as a junior creative at London-based animation studio Animade. It took a few weeks of late nights to complete the brief, but the process filled her with the confidence to tackle the next one. “Before I started, I was daunted by the idea but determined to do it no matter what,” she says.
“I’m excited for my team at Animade to see it: hopefully they’ll think it’s good.”
This Mum Runs certainly does. “We’re absolutely thrilled with it,” smiles Bound. “It’s exciting to have a piece of brilliant creative with the potential to engage with women all around the world and encourage them to take that first step on their journey to being more regularly active.”
Devin agrees, saying: “I love Eilidh’s art direction. It feels really inclusive, encompasses different types of women, and shows that everyone is welcome. It truly captures how running gives you a chance to clear your mind and focus on you.
“It was lovely to work with a brand that’s so passionate about helping people,” Devin concludes. “That passion and understanding shines through in the final concept. The combination of human insight, a simple idea and a beautiful execution is a real winner.”
On Brief is part of Inspire, a partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram to showcase outstanding creative work on both platforms. Creatives are paid for their involvement in On Brief. For more content from Inspire, see creativereview.co.uk/inspire; thismumruns.co.uk; instagram.com/by.eilidh