Does she really can? Sport England launched #ThisGirlCan campaign

I can’t say I’m the most active person I know. When I’m about to go to the gym or attend yoga classes I find hundreds of excuses. Dripping rain, lack of matching socks and too early/late hours of classes are only some of them. What also discourages me is the way sport is shown in the media. Beautiful skinny girls jogging in the city center, dressed up in the perfectly fitted leggings and sports bras with their make-up on. Should I even be bothered to work-out in my ‘so last season’ from-head-to-toe black outfit?

#ThisGirlCan campaign launched last Monday by the government agency Sport England aims to encourage women to get up from the couch and start to exercise. Boring? Not this time. We all know how beneficial exercising is, no one needs to remind that. Sport England’s campaign doesn’t glorify sport. It doesn’t say, “start jogging and you’ll become fit and skinny in one month”. What it does, is showing ordinary women running, cycling, jumping and playing football. Their bodies are not perfect, their sportswear are random and they are really fighting not to give up. If they could, they would probably curse and shout. Instead, they make statements which became the slogans of the campaign’s posters: “I jiggle, therefore I am”, “Hot and not bothered” and “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox”.[1]

According to The Telegraph, “the hashtag #thisgirlcan was trending at number three in the UK when the ad was first aired on Monday (12th of January) night.”[2] The campaign’s 90-second film have now more than 2.2 m views on YouTube. What is “This Girl Can” key to success from the public relations’ point of view?

1. Insights. The agency found women who shared their thoughts about sport and exercising. They found out what are the barriers for the average women, why there is such a big gap between men and women who are taking up sport. The answer was judgment. On that basis they could start a well-tailored campaign.

2. A well-defined target audience. This is not a campaign towards all the British women. It won’t be convincing for girls who work out only to lose weight or shape their bodies, nor for women who don’t think about sport at all. But it will attract women who find excuses and are not confident enough to go swimming or jumping at zumba classes.

3. Characters we can relate to. Julie, Victoria, Grace, Val, Kelly, Skyla and Sam, the faces of the campaign who range in age from 14 to 51, are ordinary British women. We see them sweating and wiping streaming mascara. If they are brave enough to do it on the screen, we can do it, too!

4. The directness of the message. We all know what it is about because we all experience it. The message sent is straightforward – there are no allusions, hidden information or fancy packaging. What attracts the audience is the energy and the truth.

5. Unique approach. “I wanted to make the first advert that ever celebrated cellulite,” says the ad’s director, Kim Gehrig, who has worked in advertising for 15 years.[2] Again, the truth and engaging character of the campaign make it wins.

6. Integrated social media platforms. Facebook fanpage with 77,000 likes and thousands of active users, popular #thisgirlcan hashtag, Twitter and Instagram profiles – the communication strategy seems to work and the content is easily adaptable to all the social media platforms.

The big question is – does she really can? New Year’s resolutions can help the campaign to start off but what will be the long-term effect?

[1] Sweney, M. 12 Jan 2015. Sport England launches fitness campaign to encourage women to take up sport and exercise. The Guardian online [Accessed: 18 Jan 2015]. <http://goo.gl/vuj3Da&gt;

[2] Parker, O. 16 Jan 2015. #ThisGirlCan is sweeping the nation: are you on board yet? The Telegraph online [Accessed: 18 Jan 2015] <http://goo.gl/tHU1sN&gt;

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