Image to represent the philosophy behind #ThisGirlCan

I have long been a follower and advocate of the #ThisGirlCan campaign. After fives years of generated content and inspiring millions of followers, I’d go as far as to say that it has become a movement.

Launched in 2015 by Sport England, it had the objective to ‘break the mould of how women were portrayed’ and to encourage more to become active. Not only did it reach that target, it very much exceeded it.

With snappy and shareable content such as ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’ there was no doubt of the message.

The creative had something for everyone. Whatever your preference and however hard or exhilarating you found exercise, you could identify with the women in the advert.


Maintaining momentum

Having a successful campaign is worth celebrating but it is also the hardest position to be in. Not only do you need to do the same again, you also need to build on what has been achieved.

Far from hanging up their running shoes, the team behind this multi-award-winning marketing movement have continued to launch adverts every year. The theme remains the same, but the focus has a subtle shift to appeal to the widest audience possible.

The latest instalment to hit our screens went live from 14 January and this time focuses on the barriers to exercise.


Remembering your audience

The one thing the creatives could do to destroy this campaign it to get too clever. There are so many ideas you could come up. After all, unlike when it launched, they now have millions of followers who are actively engaged.

The trick however is to remain authentic.

Shifting this from an honest message to an agency that wants to try out some new techniques just wouldn’t work. The message is raw, and it resonates.

Thankfully, those working on the campaign look to those that are best qualified to influence the next instalment; the audience.

Keeping it real

There are a number of subtle elements to this advert. Not to be confused with another advert for women’s products, it really does keep it real. There are women with period pains, mothers with young babies and even a tampon string that all make an appearance.

Going back to basics, without overdoing the message, these signposts give those watching the nudge they might need to think about becoming more active.

The beauty of the #ThisGirlCan movement is that from the outset it has been inclusive. It isn’t about shaming or blaming, it is about doing what you can, when you can. It has made exercise accessible for all, whatever size, shape, race or capability you have.

Building the community on the ground

I’ve said already that I am a huge fan of this advert. It appeals to me in a way that no other has. What I would like to see now is how this can be delivered on the ground.

The adverts capture the essence of the #ThisGirlCan creative but seeing this in practice would take it to a whole new level. This isn’t about sponsoring lots of community-based sports programmes, it is about taking a movement and making it work harder.

Tapping into the audiences that are now engaged would be an obvious starting point. The website does signpost to activities in the local area, however I feel there needs to be more of a personal touch to this activation.

It feels to me like there needs to be the #ThisGirlCan equivalent of the Race For Life, which is another activity I endorse wholeheartedly. Although almost impossible to manage, bringing the community together in person would be a true measure of success for me.

#ThisGirlCan and this girl will

As an agency we are constantly reviewing brand activity, not only from our clients but also competitors. Every day there is a new idea that we share or a concept that has been brought to life that we feel is worthy of a ping around the office email.

The difference with #ThisGirlCan for me is that it doesn’t just appeal, it turns my thoughts into action. It makes me want to go out and to do something. It challenges my excuses and it gives me reason to get my trainers back out of the cupboard.

For a marketing message to have that power Sport England are certainly doing something right and I look forward to seeing what more they have planned throughout the year.