How Sport England found its authentic marketing voice with ‘This Girl Can’

Sport England wanted to encourage women to increase their physical activity, so it created the campaign ‘This Girl Can’ and its authenticity led to impressive engagement.

It was in January of 2015 when Sport England has officially launched the campaign named ‘This Girl Can’ along with the agency FCB Inferno, aiming to motivate women to take part in a physical activity.

According to their own research, 75% of women want to get involved in a sport, but they are discouraged by fear, pressure, or everyday struggles. ‘This Girl Can’ wanted to change this statistic with the creation of an authentic campaign, targeting women of all ages, seeking to “tell the real story of women who play sport by using images that are the complete opposite of the idealised and stylised images of women we are now used to seeing.”


What’s the secret then to such a successful campaign?


‘This Girl Can’ has significantly benefited from its focus on authenticity, making it clear from the beginning that the campaign wants to be real, speaking in a language that its audience will understand.

The goal was to provide women of all ages the right confidence to leave their fears aside and start any physical activity, while reminding them that even the smallest step counts.


It’s not easy to be genuine in a campaign, but Sport England’s research ensured that it acknowledges women’s needs, but also their fears regarding exercising, which led to a unique voice.

The campaign is telling women that it understands their concerns and it also aims to motivate them to start exercising, with its warm reception leading to a trending topic on Twitter and a hot trend on Google.

Blending data, social media and creativity

‘This Girl Can’ is blending data, social media and creativity in order to produce a complete campaign that is consistent to its authenticity and its message to all women.

What’s more, it used billboards, TV advertising and even an app to expand its reach and ensure that its motivational content is spread to a wider audience.


As for its social presence, it numbers:

  • Facebook: 335.254 likes
  • Twitter: 90.1k followers
  • Instagram: 36.5k followers
  • Youtube: 20874 subscribers

Focus on the audience

You can tell when a campaign knows its audience and this usually can be reflected on its success. ‘This Girl Can’ celebrates women of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds, routines and goals and despite the challenge of reaching a wide audience, it manages to speak to each one personally, with the right use of content.


It features inspiring stories from everyday women, trying to differentiate from the way big fitness brands approach women, which means that it leaves aside the idealised image of women involved in sports, in order to help them feel confident and start exercising.

The campaign’s impact led to more than 540,000 women and girls joining the ‘This Girl Can’ social media community in just one year, while it managed to create a very engaged community on all social networks.


Creating a community

‘This Girl Can’ succeeded in creating an engaged community on social media by encouraging women to send their own stories, which shifted the focus from the campaign to its audience.

Women of all ages felt part of a bigger community, which provided them the boost to share their stories, or even to create their own motivational images.

‘This Girl Can’ has created an app that allowed women to upload their photo and associate it with an empowering message, with the best ones being shared on all social networks.

This strengthened the feeling of being part of a community, but it also helped the campaign to obtain user-generated-content, as there’s always a need to have more.

The hashtag #ThisGirlCan was used more than 660,000 times on Twitter, while according to RiteTag’s analysis, there’s still an interest to the campaign’s tweets, more than a year after the initial launch of the campaign.

thisgirlcan graph

Posting motivational content

Motivational content is capable of increasing engagement on social media and it may get even more powerful when a campaign speaks directly to its audience.

‘This Girl Can’ heavily focused on motivational content for its social presence, with women embracing its messages from the very first posts, which significantly led to the success of the campaign.


On Instagram for example, the campaign has an average of 500 likes, but the most popular posts manage to double the likes, which turned out to be the best examples of the campaign.
These two images have been widely shared on all social networks as they manage to combine the right image with the appropriate caption.


Inspiring action

Sport England announced in January that ‘This Girl Can’ inspired 2.8 million women to get moving during a year, while a survey indicated that 40% of women started exercising more after the campaign came out.


‘This Girl Can’ managed to reach the goal of inspiring women to start a physical activity, with Sport England announcing back in December that 148,000 women started exercising for at least 30 minutes.

The increased engagement and the newly created community contributed to the success of the campaign, but the ultimate goal was to motivate women to get active, with these stats proving that authenticity led to the desired goal.

The campaign in numbers

Here’s the success of the campaign in numbers:

  • This Girl Can films have been viewed 37 million times on the campaign’s YouTube and Facebook channels alone.
  • 540,000 women and girls have joined the This Girl Can social media community.
  • There has been 660,000 tweets using #ThisGirlCan
  • The campaign has been talked about on social media every single day since it launched on 12 January, 2015.
  • The campaign has been talked about in more than 110 countries.

Kate Dale, Head of Brand and Digital Strategy of Sport England, will be speaking about finding an authentic marketing voice at our Shift event in London on May 25.

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