LONDON: Sport England’s original This Girl Can campaign led to significant behavioural change around women exercising and the second phase has proven equally successful.

Given the plaudits the 2015 campaign received, there was a feeling in some quarters that “we’ve fixed that” but “we absolutely hadn’t”, Jenny Price, CEO Sport England, told the recent IAB Engage conference.

“All the insight, all the evidence was telling us that we needed to do something else. So we decided to have a go at a Phase 2.” (For more details, read WARC’s report: This Girl (Still) Can: the second phase of Sport England’s groundbreaking campaign.)

Launched earlier this year, Phase 2 followed much the same approach, using the same director and using real women and their own stories.

The aims were slightly different, as the upper age range was extended from 40 to 60 year olds and there was a determined effort to drive resilience, reassuring women that it is quite normal to step in and out of exercise, to have a break and to go back.

And Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman was a more than worthy successor to the Missy Elliott song that had soundtracked the first campaign. “It felt like it was written for us,” said Price.

The initial results she revealed show that the campaign continues to change behaviour, with 4.9 million women having taken some kind of action as a result of engagement with the campaign.

Further, 3.3 million have done some or more exercise as a result of the campaign, and 1.5 million have started exercising.

While This Girl Can is aimed at removing the fear of judgement that has inhibited so many women from taking up exercise, even the most successful athletes are not immune from such feelings, Price reported , quoting a medal-winner’s experience.

“Every single time I’ve been on a starting line – other than 2012 when I knew I was in the shape of my life – I’ve looked round at the other women and thought they’re better than me, they’re fitter than me, they’ve trained harder than me and they’re going to beat me.”

Sourced from WARC