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In England, two million fewer women than men were exercising regularly, despite 75% of these women saying they wanted to be more active. Existing sports advertising, the London 2012 Olympics and the obvious health benefits had failed to inspire them. Clearly, we needed a different approach. We discovered that a unifying barrier standing between women and exercise was the fear of being judged – for anything from “wobbly bits” to “sweat patches”. This Girl Can tackles this head on, featuring street-cast women who are already out there jiggling, wiggling and perspiring with pride. Prior to the main launch, we seeded the conversation online with empowering content films and proactively responded to tweets about exercise anxiety with encouragement and support. A 90’ TV spot then followed, supported by outdoor and digital. Over 29 million views later, women all over the world have been inspired to become girls who can.


For Sport England – the Government agency for grassroots sport - this brief was of huge strategic importance. While it had funded many grassroots projects for women , this would be its first ever fully integrated marketing and communications campaign. Its brief asked for brave, disruptive creative that would be “inclusive, sensitive, real, inspiring”. The above principles and the end result deliver against all four of these requirements.


We open on a young woman making her way confidently through a locker room, before adjusting her bikini bottoms with a twang of the elastic. What follows is an endorphin-stirring celebration of women of all sizes and abilities, running, punching, kicking, rowing, throwing and diving like they just don’t care. ‘This Girl Can’ rejects the idealised imagery of women in sports advertising and instead heroes them in their wonderful reality – cellulite and sweaty faces included. The pace of the edit mimics an exercise routine: building up, pausing for breath, continuing to a climax before finally slumping in a shattered heap, all in sync to Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’.


With more than 29 million views online and over 700 million media impressions, This Girl Can has received an overwhelmingly positive response. At launch it trended on Twitter, made it into Google’s Hot Trends and Top 12 Trending Searches.

We have gained 206,000 fans on Facebook, 61,900 Twitter followers and received coverage in over 65 countries without any international spend.

We have seen a 720% increase in prompted campaign awareness, and our social sentiment has been consistently encouraging, with a 98% positive response.

Most importantly, we’re seeing the impact of the campaign on women’s exercise levels and attitudes towards activity. While quantitative behaviour change results are still to come, women worldwide have been telling us about the exercise they’ve done and the confidence they’ve felt as a result of This Girl Can.


The strategy was to liberate our audience from the fear of judgement by celebrating the fact that women come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. It really doesn’t matter if you are rubbish or an expert. The point is that you are a woman and you are doing something.

The TV and Cinema film championed a new visual and verbal language for women and exercise, as well as providing truly relatable role models.


In a study of 27 European countries, the sport participation rates of English men ranked 3rd, whereas the statistics for English women fell to the bottom of the chart at 19th. However, Sweden had proved that the gender gap can be closed with both Swedish men and women ranking in the top 5.

What’s more, women in England knew and understood the health benefits of exercise, and 75% aged between 14 and 40 said they wanted to do more… But they weren’t. Sport England wanted to find out why, and redress the gender gap with a campaign that women themselves would own.

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