#ThisGirlCan saw viral success when it kicked off in January with an ad that showed real, non-photoshopped women exercising.
Speaking at Advertising Week Europe today (25 March), Tanya Joseph, director of the campaign for Sport England said the next stage of above the line advertising for #ThisGirlCan will launch early this summer.
There are no plans to slow down its efforts of promoting the campaign, and Sport England will continue to seek and work with existing partners to ensure longevity.
“The reason we wanted to create shareable assets is to get partners working with us as well,” she said. “We’re giving people tools so they can continue using it.If you think about the 5-a-day or recycling campaigns, they were started by the government but embraced by partners.”
The campaign has provided a free toolkit featuring photography and other assets to its over 4,000 partners, which now include sports clubs, brands as well as the FA.
“Despite its male dominance, the FA has embraced the campaign,” Joseph said, adding that the football body is currently sponsoring #ThisGirlCan billboards at Wembley.
‘We aimed for something radical and disruptive’
The campaign was born out of insight which showed that 75% of women say they would like to exercise more, but refrain from doing so due to a fear of judgement, according to Sport England.
Joseph added that despite previous investments by Sport England, the gap between the numbers of men vs. women participating in sport remain wide.
“We needed to do something radical and disruptive,” she said, adding that most female sport advertising is “incredibly stylised and airbrushed”.
Also speaking at the session, Vicki Holgate head of strategy at FCB Inferno, which worked on the campaign, said “#ThisGirlCan” was an effort to “liberate women from the judgements that hold them back” and increase confidence in order to get more women involved in sport, with the aim to ultimately change the way society thinks about exercising.
Focusing on the 14-40 age group, where the gap is the widest according to Sport England, the organisation and agency set out fore core principles for the campaign – to create an idea that inspires, use flexible and useable assets to allow women to own the campaign themselves, and to plan deeply but be prepared to let go.
‘People are recognising a new way of speaking about sport’
#ThisGirlCan initially kicked off through work with media partners such as Grazia, The Telegraph and MailOnline as well as social influencers to create online videos showing girls talking about the barriers they have to overcome when exercising.
The first phase of the campaign, which was an effort to show girls they’re not alone in their fears of judgement, saw massive social media support, with 750,000 views on one of its videos, according to FCB Inferno.
The second phase was a 90-second advert starring non-airbrushed, real people selected off the street, which aired on 12 January.
“I’m blown away by the impact we had in a few short weeks,” Joseph said, referencing the over 25 million views the campaign received online. The campaign also trended at #2 on Twitter’s hot trends, and gained more than 110 pieces of coverage in the press following the launch, according to Sport England.
Celebrity influencers such as Clare Balding also got involved, despite the fact that the organisation says they weren’t paid.
However, the success of the campaign is not only based on the coverage it received – Joseph claims Sport England has also seen positive results on the back of three goals it set out when it began, which were to raise awareness of the issue, change attitudes towards women in sport and motivate girls to exercise.
“Almost everyone viewing the campaign has cited a shift in feelings towards exercise,” she says. “People are recognising a new way of speaking about sport and women are embracing the campaign.”
This has involved women sharing personal stories, supporting eachother through Twitter and creating their own videos.
Holgate added that throughout monitoring social media, less than 1% of tweets surrounding the campaign have been negative.
“Even when they do appear, our supporters leap in and counter them – we haven’t had to do it,” she says. “Instead of internet trolls, we call them our ‘internet Tinkerbells’.”