Health & Wellbeing

The girls most definitely can

Three cheers for Sports England and its new marketing campaign; most notably its television ad featuring a cross-section of women, of all shapes and sizes, exercising to a sound track of Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On. It’s one of the most energising and inclusive ads I’ve seen in a long time – honestly compelling.

The TV ad is part of a wider campaign that also includes a series of posters of very normal, average women getting stuck into exercise with slogans such as ‘I jiggle, therefore I am’, ‘Hot and not bothered’ and ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox.”

It’s great to see an ad that really understands its audience, working to create such a positive. It drives home its message using highly visual, inclusive frames. The message of inclusivity is key – that woman could be you; that woman is pretty much everyone. As Clare Balding said, on ITV’s breakfast television this week, we’ve all got jiggly bits. Exercise is not the domain of the young, slim and pert. It’s for everybody.

FCB Inferno, the agency behind the campaign, said that they were aiming to meet the challenge of resonating with women between the ages of 14 to 40. I think they’ve probably hit that marker and some, managing to reach out to a good few who are up to a decade on from that category and beyond. They have also aimed to make the content endlessly adaptable so that it can be used across a series of mediums. Again, they look like they’ve succeeded.

Ads that target our health simply have to be good but they usually work best by terrifying us. Think the smoking ads (the current one that shows lesions appearing on a cigarette as the smoker unwittingly carries on puffing is particularly good) and any ads to do with driving – drink driving, speeding and seat belt ads. All of these are effective because they show us terrible outcomes. It’s great then to have an ad, covering health and exercise, that is just as impactful but in a positive, life-affirming sort of way.

The serious note behind the Sports England campaign sits with a statistic – two million fewer women are regularly participating in sport or exercise than men, despite 75% of women aged 14 to 40 saying that they would like to do more. Apparently, most women who don’t partake in physical activity avoid it for fear of ridicule and judgement ie. They’re the wrong size, not good enough etc. It’s quite telling that the sexes are split on this – clearly, the fear of judgement and not being good enough is not deemed to be much of a male issue.

I hope this campaign enjoys every success as it drives such a positive message to its audience. I’ll give the final word to Sharon Jiggins, managing director at FCB Inferno: “It doesn’t matter how you do it, the brilliant thing is that you’re doing it.”