Britain's 'This Girl Can' Looks at Improvised Exercise During Covid

FCB Inferno campaign returns as pandemic drags on

"This Girl Can," Sport England's long-running campaign encouraging women's participation in sports and exercise, returns with an exhilarating spot about keeping active amid the pandemic.

Developed by FCB Inferno and Partizan director Ali Kurr, the minute-long film presents four diverse women—Aneesa, Katy, Kathy and Jennifer—who improvised ways to get in their steps and reps, even as gyms and fitness centers remained closed across the U.K. in recent months.

Set to "Offence," an insistent hip-hop track by Little Simz, the PSA captures a slice of everyday life in the age of Covid, with a montage that mixes at-home Zoom workouts, runs through the neighborhood and solitary swims with scenes of social distancing and hand washing:

This Girl Can

"We put out the call for women who were finding ways to be active, despite the obstacles that the pandemic may have introduced," FCB Inferno chief marketer Sharon Jiggins tells Muse. "Casting had to happen entirely remotely, but we nonetheless got to know them. And, as 'This Girl Can' is always dedicated to authenticity, their own outfits, homes, and running paths became our wardrobe and set."

"Once we'd identified the women who we were going to film, we made our way to where they lived," Jiggins says. "Creating a film capturing the realities of the new normal means operating within them, too. This meant that our crew had to be extra small and extra nimble, with the rest of us viewing remotely."

Sport England says 1.5 million women have begun or restarted exercise regimens since the campaign launched five years ago. Jiggins believes the group's mission takes on extra urgency these days, as "women suddenly found there were new barriers to exercise to overcome. For example, women have taken on the lion's share of childcare, and therefore the trials and tribulations of home schooling. They were also more likely to have been furloughed or have their hours reduced, meaning increased financial worries."


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Such dynamics make the quest to stay healthy and fit more challenging and essential than ever before.

"We still want to reach all women with our communication, but we know those who are on the lower rungs of being active were more likely to become less active as a result of Covid-19," Jigging says. "This is why we focused our new work on activities that were easily accessible and mainly free. However, we know that the barriers that existed pre-lockdown are still very much present, which is why we included topics such as menstruation and menopause. The more we talk about them, the more normal the conversations become, and the barriers can be reduced."

She adds: "The campaign has social at its heart, enabling women to find us easily in their digital worlds. And we are particularly pushing the This Girl Can community—700,000 strong—in order to help women find others who they can talk to and get support from."

To that end, the stars of the film will appear in the Instagram feeds of social influencers, journalists and celebrities, with all campaign elements driving users to the project's website, which boasts an improved activity finder. As part of the Great British Week of Sport, the campaign will join with ukactive and Foundation FM to stream an evening of music and fitness on Sept. 26 across Instagram.
 
You can check out previous "This Girl Can" installments below, including several produced in partnership with Disney.

CREDITS

Sharon Jiggins – Chief Marketing Officer
Emily Whiteaway – Senior Account Director
Laura Pirkis – Strategy Partner
Tom Lindo – Senior Strategist
Nikki Chapman – Director of Production
Hanna Davis – Broadcast Producer
Russ Mallows – Creative Producer
Owen Lee – Chief Creative Officer
Al Young – Creative Partner
Sarah Lefkowith – Senior Copywriter
Nicole Chen – Senior Art Director
Jude Moore – Senior Editor
Richard Bagley – Head of Artwork
Sarni Strachan – Joint Design Lead
Max Fox – Designer
Production company – Partizan
Director – Ali Kurr
Producer – Rosie Litterick
Production Manager - Charlie Scannell
DOP - Ula Pontikos
Editing – Matt Nee @ Metal Edit
Post Production - Unit
Colourist - Nick Dalby
Flame VFX – Ian Baker and Rob Ellis
Audio – Chris Southwell
Producer – Tania De Sousa
Exec Producer – Darryl Bolton

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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