BT Sport’s ‘Take Them All On’ ad depicts a young girl infusing her day at school with a series of imagined sporting heroes. Young girls are often put off sport due to social stigma and lack of access, but BT’s spot shows how professional sport can inspire the next gen of female sportspeople. We explore the insights behind the ad and understand why BT is backing girls in sport.
The spot, made for BT Sport by AMV BBDO, protagonist schoolgirl, Charlotte, beginning her day transfixed by a football match before making her way to school. On her way to lessons she chips a football (an empty drinks can) over Gareth Bale (the postman) before tackling Sam Warburton (a boy in the playground). She encounters a host of imagined sporting celebrities from sports as varied as tennis, MMA and motoGP (a boy on his bicycle). The melding of Charlotte’s everyday routine with the sporting heroes highlights sport’s potential to really inspire the youth, infiltrating their daydreams, while the ad’s tagline 'Take Them All On' encourages young people’s tenacity in their sporting pursuits.
Sports, particularly those such as MMA or rugby are often considered ‘manly’ sports. BT's ad subverts this idea by placing a young girl in the middle of the action. Evidence suggests that 1.5 million more men play sport than women each week, and only 8% of girls are meeting recommended exercise guidelines. According to Sport England, ’fear of judgement’ is a key barrier to exercising and this may be linked to ability and appearance, as is the case with 36% of the least-active schoolgirls. Furthermore, stigma, cost, lack of access and role models have all be cited as reasons for the drop out of sports, with the rate being double for girls than boys at the age of 14.
BT’s ad comes at a time when women are unapologetic about wanting to be physically strong – they claim it goes further in helping them feel confident compared to looking beautiful. Instagram behaviours confirm this; hashtag #strongwomen is more popular than any others that describe women as ‘pretty’, ‘hot’, ‘sexy’ or ‘cute’. This evolution has made women interested in role models that are strong – physically and otherwise. Outrage over a lack of gender parity for Barca FC women’s team in 2018 highlights how people expect sports organisers and broadcasters to meet their expectations of equality, while the rise of women lifting weights is helping to deconstruct outdated ideas surrounding gender in sport.
Tad Buxton is an intern at Canvas8 which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. He studies English Literature and History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. When he’s not studying, he enjoys surfing, reading sci-fi novels, and dreaming up new business ideas.