As the mega-successful This Girl Can campaign returns, Sport England CEO Jennie Price tells Abi Jackson about the inspiration behind the reboot

YES, we can! Since going live last week, within 48 hours, the new This Girl Can ad clocked up five million views across social media and thousands of mentions - resounding proof things can indeed be just as good, even better, second time round.

The central message is the same as the original 2015 launch - forget about 'looking the part', whether you're fit enough or any good, and just exercise for you, find something you love and reap the rewards - which rapidly went viral and has been mentioned on social media every single day since, so huge a chord did it strike (one year on, around 2.8 million women said they'd become more active as a result of the campaign).

This time, the late Maya Angelou, reciting Phenomenal Woman from her 1995 poetry collection, provides the soundtrack (a stunningly galvanising and comforting combination) and, inspired by the Sport England Active Lives Survey - which quizzed 200,000 on their activity levels and factors that influence how, when and why they exercise - there are a few other changes.

Here, Sport England CEO Jennie Price talks us through them...


"Our original age range was 14-40 and a lot of people thought we were mad, they couldn't see how you could create advertising that would appeal to both 15-year-olds and 40-year-olds. Quite a few agencies said, 'Oh, that's a very big range, are you sure?' We said yes, and of course, we did it successfully. There's now more of an emphasis on inactivity, and people do tend to get more inactive as they get older, but there are very few positive role models of older women being active. Interestingly, although we only went up to 40 last time, lots of women in their 40s and 50s loved it and tweeted it, so we thought we can definitely stretch this; we've made it 14 to 60-plus."


"The second thing is around life stages, particularly pregnancy. The woman in the middle of that section of the ad, when [Angelou] says, 'Phenomenal woman', is actually giving birth; she actually let us take a shot of that. We wanted to illustrate that women's bodies are amazing, they do do phenomenal things, but [pregnancy] also totally turns your life upside down. We wanted to say that this is just one of the things that turns your life upside down, and there is no reason why you shouldn't be active through it."


"We have an enormous survey that tells you loud and clear that the number of people who exercise week in, week out, year after year, is miniscule. It's the normal thing to stop and start - and if you are going to stop and start, feeling it's easy to go back, and not beating yourself up because, 'Argh, I don't belong anymore, I've undone it all, I can't face starting again,' - the first session back is horrible. But if somebody says, 'Actually, this is what normally happens', rather than, 'Where have you been?', that's a great thing."


"I'm 57; I used to go to the gym a lot, but I found as I got into my 50s, the gym got harder, so I do a mix now of long walks at a moderate intensity - I make sure I get my heart rate up, and I really love swimming. But swimming is one of those things where the judgement issue is really big, because you have to take your clothes off. But I love being in the water. The great thing about exercise is that it's really time for yourself. There aren't many times in my life where I'm not juggling too many things at once, but if I'm just walking or swimming, my mind can kind of wander, which is a real relief. When I'm training for a long charity walk, I put all the podcasts from Radio 4 on - Women's Hour, The Archers - so I can escape, and I really look forward to that time."

"One of our biggest supporters is chief medical officer Sally Davies; she's a wonderful woman and very fit, and she says to her children, 'When I take time off to exercise, I'm taking that time off because that makes me a better person, and it means I'll be here with you longer.' She's so clear about it; I think women in positions of influence saying that is very important."

"Without doubt - and I've been really lucky, I've been chief executive for 20 years now - this is the most important thing I've been involved with, this is the thing I'm most proud of. I had no idea it would go so widely... I always thought it was strong, the idea was good, I thought people would either love it or hate it and I knew lots of women would recognise it, but I had no idea it would be this big."