January 20, 2015

I kick balls, deal with it


January. Let’s face it – it’s the two-face of the calendar months. On the one side it’s the start of a new year, a fresh start, fresh horizons. Wehey! But, on the other side it’s blimming cold, grey and dismal (grismal) and you can feel pretty low in energy. I was veering more to the latter side, until an advertising campaign gave me a huge dose of energy, optimism and Wehey! at full pelt.

It was the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign by Sport England. It’s a campaign that aims to get women in the UK more active, as two million fewer females, play regular sport than males.

The first time I saw this ad, I was transfixed. To the soundtrack of Missy Elliot’s ‘Get Your Freak On’ you see women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, abilities and ages getting well and truly stuck in to an array of different sports.

The two key things about this ad that have got everyone talking are the women and the language. The women are normal looking. Gasp. They have wobbly bits, proper thighs (void of thigh gaps) and they’re sweating. Now whilst this may not seem revolutionary, in a world where photoshopping is the norm and barely any woman above a size 10 is ever really visible in the media, this is seriously refreshing.

The language is also key. Overlaying a series of the shots are the phrases like ‘I jiggle therefore I am’, ‘sweating like a pig’, ‘feeling like a fox’ and ‘damn right I look hot’. These phrases connect to the research that formed the basis of this campaign, which showed that what’s stopping women from being active is a fear of judgment on appearance and ability. Phrases like ‘sweating like a pig’ and ‘damn right I look hot’ have been reclaimed and now represent pride in getting active and darn well showing it. It’s empowering and I also plain love the fact that the word ‘jiggle’ features!

The general consensus is that this ad is hitting all the right spots but some have criticised it. Apparently, to some, ‘girl’ is patronizing – even though us girls use it a lot, and others have said it objectifies women in the same way everything else does. I have to disagree, as a girl who could do a lot more exercise than I currently do, I think it cuts through and I found it inspiring and exciting. In my eyes, this ad can get women more active. What do you think?

20.01.15, Charlotte Livingstone, Account Manager at Livity

  • kate_brundle

    Love this. As a ‘girl’ who exercises in teams (netball), by myself (running), in a group (yoga) and absolutely loves it – I want as many women to feel the physical, emotional and mental benefits it can bring. A push to raise the conversation is absolutely right and hopefully will help women feel confident to give it a go. It’s important for those of us already exercising to welcome them with open (sweaty) arms.

  • Sam Boggis-Rolfe

    Really interesting article. Do you think the explosion of fashionable running gear makes it easier or harder for women to feel comfortable?

  • Alice McDonnell

    Great article, Charlotte. Couldn’t agree more. The ad gives me goosebumps every time I watch it – it reminds me of why I do exercise and how great it makes me feel, which is something easily forgotten when you get out of the habit. It’s definitely made me more motivated to commit to exercise this year (Although we’ll see how long that lasts…!)

  • Øscar Mackenzie

    Nice job, Charlotte! They’re also using social to reach out with motivational advice, nice touch.