Outdoor Ad Review: #ThisGirlCan

Sports England have  teamed up with FCB Inferno once again to launch the follow-up to their ground-breaking “This Girl Can” campaign, aimed at increasing women’s participation in sports and other physical activities. As part of the campaign, “This Girl Can” has launched nationwide outdoor adverts that feature real women in their daily exercise regimes.

Bring on the burn! #ThisGirlCan

A post shared by This Girl Can (@thisgirlcanuk) on

The second wave of the campaign is designed to challenge the concerns that can prevent girls and women engaging in sports and straddles out-of-home, social media and digital.

Sports England have identified a “participation gap” and engaged in extensive focus groups and research revealing the “fear of judgement that is stopping too many women and girls from joining in.”

“This Girl Can” began back in 2015, armed with the knowledge that 2 million fewer women than men aged 14-40 take part in sport, despite three-quarters of women saying they want to be more active.

The real strength of the campaign came from the insight that in many cases it is a fear of judgement that holds women back from participation.

Women’s fears included:

  • Concerns over appearance and body image
  • Perceived lack of ability
  • Spending time on themselves rather than their families

By engineering a campaign that challenged the psychological and social factors the inhibit participation Sports England and FCB Inferno have reaped staggering results.

Since the campaign’s 2015 launch, the sports participation gender gap has now narrowed from over 2 million women to 1.55 women and it is estimated that 1.6 million women have taken up exercise following exposure to the campaign.

What began as an impressive ad campaign blossomed in to a community of women committed to getting active. The campaign has had a particularly outstanding impact on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat (for which a “This Girl Can” filter is available).

Extended reach

The campaign began by targeting girls and women aged 14-40, but has now expanded to include older women such as this 6-sheet featuring the slogan “I’m acting my age”, aimed at dispelling notions that it is not appropriate for older women to engage in intensive physical activity.

This is a truly far-reaching campaign, with a vast amount of creatives tackling a range of barriers to sports participation including:

  • Challenging racial and gender norms: “A kick right in the stereotypes”
  • Making sports seem fun for young girls: “This is how I get my teenage kicks”
  • Normalising the participation of older women: “My alarm clock is set for 6°C”


A simple, catchy and memorable catchphrase is always a winner. A quick google of “This Girl Can” reveals a campaign that has managed to dominate almost an entire laptop screen’s worth of SERP real estate, with thisgirlcan.co.uk and the @ThisGirlCanUK twitter handle prominently displayed.

Web content

This is the kind of campaign that has almost limitless potential. This is reflected on the nicely designed thisgircan.co.uk site which gives users access to women’s stories, well-produced video content, lots of visuals and plenty of detailed facts and figures underpinning the campaign.

Almost no stone has been left unturned. A “This Girl Can” app is available (sadly it’s tablet only at time of writing) for self-generating branded videos and images; there’s a cleverly branded Snapchat filter, and links to the Facebook community and social media.

The street-casting of real women of diverse backgrounds and body-types is also key to the viral quality and “relatability” of the campaign.

But the real secret to the campaign is the fact that rather than simply championing a worthy cause, an ad-agency’s perspective has been brought to bare on the subject matter. Rather than focussing on the drudgery of exercise and going to the gym, the campaign instead focuses on portraying a range of physical activities that can engender fun, joy and energy.

“This Girl Can” shows how social campaigning and marketing savvy can be combined with high profile outdoor ads to not only create a multi-dimensional campaign that any agency would dream of, but also to deliver quite stunning results.

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  1. […] recently wrote about the #ThisGirlCan campaign from Sports England. Not only do they make use of the #ThisGirlCan hashtag, their slogan is of […]

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