This Girl Can campaign returns, taking on taboo in the most empowering way

A female-led creative team is behind the new advert for Sport England, which marks five years of the hugely successful campaign, and goes to prove that nothing – from period cramps to menopause – can stop a woman on a mission.

Date
15 January 2020
Reading Time
3 minutes

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One of the most impactful advertising campaigns of the past decade, Sport England’s This Girl Can, has returned, marking a five-year successful run with a new film. Directed by Darkroom’s Ali Kurr, whose work for the BBC and Veet shows a talent for avoiding women stereotypes in film, the ad by agency FCB Inferno depicts what the team calls the “unfiltered reality of women being active”, showing women tucking away a tampon string, dealing with period cramps, managing the juggle of motherhood and the hot sweats of the menopause in their mission to get fit. In true This Girl Can style, it does all this in an energetic, raw and empowering film, soundtracked by British rapper Little Simz’ Offence.

The creative team was led by writer Sarah Lefkowith, who worked on previous campaigns for This Girl Can as well as UEFA’s #WePlayStrong campaign for women’s football, and art director Nicole Chen, who has worked on campaigns for Nivea and Nike, and was named among The Dots’ 100 “trailblazers redefining the creative industry” for International Women’s Day 2019.

Aiming to continue This Girl Can’s goal to portray real women getting fit on screen, the stars of the campaign include Yvonne, a mum exercising with her daughter to relieve symptoms of the menopause; Kirsti, a mother of three who plays netball to get “time to claim as her own while breaking a bit of a sweat”; and Hannah, who exercises to manage debilitating period cramps.

Research from Sport England found that 63 per cent of women who see “slim-toned bodies” on social media say it has a negative impact on them, while only 18 per cent of those women found fitness influencers relatable. And despite the positive impact of the five-year campaign, over 50 per cent of women are still held back from exercising by worrying what others think. This bold new film makes renewed efforts to break taboos and get women active.

According to The Observer, early focus groups who were shown the film reacted with strong approval to the sight of a tampon string in an advert, “with women delighted to see such common but unspoken issues finally being publicly addressed”.

FCB Inferno’s Sharon Higgins said in a statement: “This Girl Can became a movement because we struck a chord with how women feel and five years on its impact is felt well beyond the realm of exercise. This is proven daily in social media by women using the hashtag to feel confident and empowered. We have also seen many brands make seismic shifts in how they portray women in advertising. But as much as we have made great strides forward, the fear of judgement still exists. And although in 2020, some of the barriers to exercise might have shifted from five years ago, the need for This Girl Can is still very much apparent. And we address these barriers head on in this new campaign, tackling judgements that need to be acknowledged and talked about."

Kurr, the director, commented of her personal connection to the campaign that “This Girl Can got me thrashing a boxing bag for the first time and loving it, and so to be able to encourage others to get active via such an important and brilliant campaign was a directorial dream come true.”

The ad will roll out on TV from 17 January, supported by an out-of-home, digital and social campaign.

GallerySport England: This Girl Can

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Sport England: This Girl Can

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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