Analysing the success of ‘This Girl Can’ from Sport England

Kate Dale, Head of Brand and Digital Strategy for Sport England, delivered a very interesting presentation in our Shift London event on the factors that contributed to the massive success of ‘This Girl Can’ and the lessons we can learn from it.

The challenge

Sport England wanted to motivate women to exercise, as their research indicated that there is a stubborn gender gap on the number of people that are active.

However, it was observed that 75% of women want to do more exercise, which created the need to approach them.

The audience

Sport England decided to create a campaign to target women aged 14-40 and encourage them to increase their physical activities during the week. According to their research, fear of judgement was among the main reasons that discouraged women from exercising.

In fact, the fear of judgement was complex enough to be divided in three sub-categories, appearance, ability and priorities and all of them were very common for women considering to be more active, without actually doing it.

That’s why ‘This Girl Can’ aimed to attract women of all shapes, sizes, levels of ability, hoping to help them leave their inhibitions aside.

THisGirlCan 1

The idea of the campaign

‘This Girl Can’ was created to target the cautious women in a way that would be convincing and authentic and the initial goal for Sport England was to reshape the language used around women and exercise.

According to Kate Dale and their behaviour change brief, the campaign had to be:

  • ground-breaking
  • fresh
  • surprising
  • disruptive

The three stages

The campaign of ‘This Girl Can’ was split into three phases:

  1. Realisation: aiming for media exposure, hoping to create and curate conversation.
  2. Inspiration: the content is now used to inspire women of all ages.
  3. Self-Identification: the last stage of the campaign is about helping women feel closer to the campaign and motivate them to start exercising and it was the stage that led to an extended social reach, as women started sharing the content they came across.What’s more, an app allowed them to create their own motivational content, which led to more available content for the campaign, but also a stronger association between the target audience and ‘This Girl Can’.

this girl 2


‘This Girl Can’ heavily focused on its complete social media presence and its media coverage to increase its reach and the response was impressive, counting among others:

  • Over 37 million total campaign views
  • A combined and growing social community of 600k
  • Impressive engagement levels on Facebook and Twitte
  • 10 consecutive days of positive media coverage in UK
  • 660,000 tweets about #thisgirlcan

The most important impact had to do with the number of women that were motivated to start exercising.  

2.8 million women aged 14-40 who recognised the campaign took on a physical exercise, while 150,000 more women are now active once a week, every week.

It wasn’t the success on social networks and media the ultimate goal for ‘This Girl Can’, but they certainly helped boost the campaign, managing to reach women of all ages and shapes, changing their attitude towards exercising and creating an effective call-to-action.

Lessons learned

Sport England and Kate Dale shared seven lessons that helped them motivate women with their successful campaign and here’s what we can learn from them:

  • Understand your audience
  • Combine empathy and care
  • Aim to get noticed in an organic and appealing way
  • Seek for collaborations with influencers
  • Engage with your audience (react, respond, recognise, reward)
  • Focus on the creation and the curation of content
  • Be brave

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