Tanya Joseph

Director of Business Partnerships at Sport England

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director


Tanya Joseph joined Sport England in January 2012 as director of business partnerships, responsible for corporate affairs and commercial relationships.

She started her career as a journalist before becoming a press secretary initially to the Lord Chancellor and then the Prime Minister, a role she held for more than four years.

In 2003 she left the Civil Service to join the world of consultancy where she took on senior roles at international agency Grayling and at the head of her own consultancy, Tanya Joseph Consulting. Last year she was named ‘Marketer of the year’ at the Masters of Marketing awards.

creativebrief: As Executive Director Business Partnerships, what is your primary focus?

Tanya Joseph: I have a lot to focus on, but two of the biggest priorities for me are delivering campaigns and messages that resonate with our target audiences and building Sport England’s reputation as a leading light in behavioural change. Both of these are fundamental to us achieving our aim of creating an active nation.

creativebrief: What is the biggest issue for your brand today and how are you addressing it?

Tanya Joseph: I think there has been a misconception that Sport England is just a funding body that gives out National Lottery grants and does little else. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We have some of the best brains in behavioural research, experts in building sports facilities and, as shown by This Girl Can, world-class campaign leaders. This Girl Can is grounded in in-depth research about the real reasons why so many women are put off being active.  I think that’s why it’s resonated so well with women and girls, and shows the powerful role proper insight can play in better connecting with your audience.

creativebrief: Is there a broader initiative that you are driving for the brand outside of the day-to-day?

Tanya Joseph: In May, we launched our new strategy which will pave the way for us investing more money, time and expertise in getting inactive people moving more. That’s a big deal for us because historically much of our work has focused on more sporty types. We’ll also be focusing a lot more on specific audiences, including disabled people and people who find being active hard to afford. I’m really excited about the campaigning opportunities this will create.

creativebrief: What work are you most proud of over the course of your career?

Tanya Joseph: As someone who isn’t naturally sporty and like most women have spent most of my adult life being brow beaten by the media that I should look a certain way, I am really proud of This Girl Can.  While the 60 or so industry accolades we have won are very welcome indeed, my proudest moments are overhearing women talking about it, saying that they recognise someone like them in the campaign. ‘Femvertising’ is now a regular feature into the advertising lexicon, and the industry has woken up to the fact that women don’t want to be patronised, insulted or lied to. This Girl Can has played an important role in this, and I really hope we are turning a corner on how products and services are marketed to women.

creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

Tanya Joseph: I really like campaigns that speak honestly to consumers. Bodyform’s latest campaign “no blood should hold us back” is a great example, and I like to think inspired by This Girl Can.

creativebrief: How do you stay in-touch with the industry’s best agencies and their work?

Tanya Joseph: I don’t think you have to seek out great work. If it’s doing its job, it will normally find you. I am an avid consumer of media myself. I am surrounded by screens at work and use social media constantly. I love TV as a medium and read newspapers and magazines every day, I use public transport and walk around London. I also get to judge campaigns for industry awards. It is a great privilege which I hugely enjoy as it gives me an opportunity to get under the skin of some of the amazing work out there.

creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Is there a better way?

Tanya Joseph: For me a good pitch is one in which the agency has really understood what we are trying to do. I am not looking for flashy presentations or gimmickry. I’m looking for clever, creative people who can demonstrate that they get it. It also helps when they have found out a bit about me and my business. It never fails to surprise me when people haven’t done basic research so get the name of the organisation wrong, the gender of the CEO wrong or appear not to know anything about me.



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