Sport England CEO: The real success of ‘This Girl Can’ is its empowerment of women

While Sport England is proud the campaign got women exercising, its CEO Jennie Price says she is “most pleased” that it made a statement on empowering women.


Sport England’s CEO Jennie Price says the real success of its ‘This Girl Can’ campaign is in empowering women, not just getting them to start exercising.

Speaking last night at the Advertising Association’s Parliamentary Reception, she told the story of a trip she made to Australia to talk about the success of the campaign and tackling sport and physical activity. While there, she had conversations with more than 2,000 people about why the campaign worked and resonated so well, but what was “most extraordinary”, she said, were the conversations she had with people dealing with domestic violence.

The thing I was most pleased about was that we had managed to make a real statement about empowering women.

Jennie Price, Sport England

“When we played out the ‘This Girl Can’ video for campaigners on domestic violence, they said ‘this has nothing to do with sport or physical activity and everything to do with empowerment of women and women being treated properly and being able to stand up as themselves and for what they want.

“To be honest, although the 2.8 million women we got exercising is my job, the thing I was most pleased about was that we had managed to make a real statement about empowering women.”

READ MORE: Tanya Joseph on the future of ‘This Girl Can’ and Sport England’s strategy

Price congratulated the agency behind the campaign, FCB Inferno, which she said unearthed the real insight in its research, that it is the judgement women feel when exercising that prevents them from getting involved.

“[Our research] said women don’t exercise because they don’t have the time or it’s too expensive; both are true but they are not the most powerful reason. It is the stuff we don’t talk about such as ‘I’m a bit unfit’, ‘I feel a bit fat in these clothes’, ‘I’ll look ridiculous’; those are the conversations that we do not have and that is what ‘This Girl Can’ is all about,” she explained.

“That’s why it connected because it was real life and operating on a real barrier.”

The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign was one of a number on show at the AA’s event, which aimed to highlight the social good advertising can do. Among the others were John Lewis’s ‘Man on the Moon’ campaign from Christmas last year, which saw it tie-up with Age UK to raise awareness of loneliness over the festive season, and St John Ambulance’s campaign that showed people how to save a chocking baby.

READ MORE: Age UK on its tie-up with John Lewis

Damian Collins MP, who is on the Government’s culture, media and sport committee and used to work in advertising, said: “If we want to raise money for good causes, get people to change their lives, and deal with society’s biggest problems. Advertising is one of the conduits that makes that happen. Creativity that goes into advertising can move audiences and get people to change their minds.”