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 14-40-year-old 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.
Agency: FCB Inferno
CCO: Al Young
Creative director: Bryn Attewell
Creatives: Raymond Chan, Simon Cenamor
Director: Kim Gehrig
Production company: Somesuch