This Girl Can: Giving judgement the finger (& inspiring millions of women to get active)

IPA Effectiveness Awards Case Study 2018

In 2014, 1.79m fewer women than men were exercising regularly, and the gap was growing. Sport England’s objective was to reduce this gender gap. The discovery that ‘fear of judgement’ was holding women back inspired a campaign (spanning TV, cinema, outdoor, digital, social, PR and influencers) that celebrated the triumph of a ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude over society’s judgement. Over 2 million women became more active as a direct result and the gender gap reduced from 1.79m to 1.55m. Based on incremental sports and health benefits generated, the estimated Return on Marketing Investment was £35 for every £1 invested.

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Ensuring and proving effectiveness is fundamental to any campaign, especially one for a Government agency where advertising spend is unusual and subject to significant scrutiny. This Girl Can has been highly effective in changing the behaviour of women across England. It is one of the first interventions which has a proven impact on this type of behaviour at whole population level and so has had a profound effect on our wider work. Its effectiveness is borne from the power of insight; going beyond the obvious barriers of inconvenience, lack of time and cost to deal with a fundamental, previously unspoken issue about how women felt about their bodies in the context of sport and activity. We now place much more emphasis on emotional barriers in our wider work, and draw from a wider range of insights to ensure our interventions tackle the most fundamental issues. Secondly, it has shown the importance of viewing a campaign, not as an isolated finite suite of communications, but rather as an evolving toolbox, which partners and others can use, and flexible enough to be deployed across a range of media. We have also learned that the most effective way to prove the effect of a campaign is to collect impact data in different ways, triangulating several sources and ensuring a mix of qualitative and quantitative evaluation. Finally, whilst our intention was always to create a campaign that could live on in the hands of partners and our audience, it has taught us a powerful lesson about finding the confidence necessary to relinquish control and empower others to take ownership of a campaign. Our biggest success has been that This Girl Can has a life independent of Sport England. Not just accepting but celebrating this is the biggest culture shift of all for our organisation.

Jennie Price, Chief Executive
Sport England

Winners 2018

Silver Winner


This Girl Can: Giving judgement the finger (& inspiring millions of women to get active)


Sport England


Sport England


FCB Inferno

Principal Authors

  • Vicki Holgate - FCB Inferno
  • Laura Pirkis - FCB Inferno
  • Matthew Scott - FCB Inferno

Contributing Authors

  • Nicola Willison - FCB Inferno

Credited Companies

  • Carat - Media Agency
  • Somesuch & Co - Other|Production Company
  • Blue Rubicon - PR Agency
  • Kim Gehrig - Other|Director

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