"A celebration of active women designed to make the attainable aspirational" is how London agency FCB Inferno describes its "This Girl Can" campaign for Sport England, for which its just launched first commercial. A 90 second film surely guaranteed to get even the most confirmed couch potato moving, the spot quickly trended number two on Twitter and generated almost 1m Facebook views in under 24 hours.
The brief was to address the fact that in the UK, two million more men than women do regular exercise, a gender gap Sport England, a non-departmental public body briefed to build and support grassroots sport, is eager to bridge.
"Sport England’s data shows 75% of women want to do more sport, so the question was: why aren’t they doing so?" FCB Inferno planning director Vicki Holgate explains.
"Beyond some of the more obvious practical reasons, we found that a huge proportion of women are reluctant for fear of being judged—on their ability (or not), for example, or being perceived as overly competitive or unfeminine. Even for how they look – for many, embarrassment about their weight and fear of lycra are a major concern."
So the agency set out to create a campaign to give women the confidence to go out and do sport anyway. The end result? A sassy, upbeat campaign with a commercial featuring real women of all shapes and sizes working out in whatever way they can.
"The aim was to create a celebration of ordinary women smashing through the many and different barriers each face," FCB Inferno copywriter Simon Cenamor says. "We had a desire to feature as wide an array of women and sports as we could, and an outline of a script. But it only really came together when we began working with director Kim Gehrig (through production company Somesuch) and set about street casting."
Casting director Leanne Flinn approached ordinary women from across the U.K. outside gyms and football pitches, and even while out on a run. "Our focus was on finding real women doing what they do to feature in the ad rather than adopt the kind of Nike/Adidas take on athletes which, for some, though aspirational is also quite alienating," Cenamor explains. "The women we cast were all chosen because their characters embodied the spirit of the 'This Girl Can' campaign."
Following a shoot last September, selected women’s stories were posted online as a teaser for this week’s full "The Girl Can" campaign launch. And it is from the interviews conducted for these mini online documentaries that a number of the lines featured in the TV commercial and accompanying poster ads came—the line about a young girl having a beautiful manicure beneath her boxing gloves, for example.
TV and poster executions are also being supported by a social campaign and the agency also developed online content to direct women to local activities near where they live and demonstrate a range of exercises to inspire them to get going. Across every component, however, runs the "This Girl Can" theme—an idea conceived to become a stand-alone property in its own right.
"Not only are we encouraging women to use the 'This Girl Can' branding when sharing their achievements, we hope it will become widely adopted by local sports organisations, too" Cenamor says. "It’s not just about the ads but all about celebrating being active and the fact that getting up and going out there to do whatever you do is cool."