Nike introduced the “Just Do It” campaign in 1988. It involved a series of advertisements in which athletes, both professionals and amateurs, talked about their accomplishments and shared their emotions while engaged in physical activities. The campaign marked the debut of the iconic slogan. This slogan is now an integral part of the Nike brand and has often appeared alongside the Nike Swoosh logo and other marketing communications.
Understanding the Origin of the “Just Do It” Nike Slogan and Its Intended Meaning and Actual Marketing Impact
History and Origin
Advertising executive Dan Wieden of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy was the brain behind the “Just Do It” slogan of Nike. He drew inspiration from the last words of Gary Gilmore, a death row inmate, whose final words before execution, “You know, let’s do it,” compelled him to ponder on how someone facing a certain and immediate death had found the motivation to push through under a seeming dire and hopeless situation.
Wieden founded Wieden+Kennedy in 1982 with fellow advertising executive David Kennedy. Nike was one of its first clients. The sportswear company was a small account back then. The “Just Do It Campaign” was specifically conceived and launched in 1988 to target all Americans regardless of their age, gender, and physical fitness level.
The campaign also attempted to position Nike as a fashion brand catering to both professional athletes and ordinary consumers. The campaign was delivered through a range of mediums such as television, print, billboards, and merchandise. It was well-received. The series of ads that were disseminated in various channels and mediums of communication helped strengthen the Nike brand and establish its authority in the sportswear market.
Meaning of the Slogan
The company defined the meaning of the “Just Do It” slogan as being both universal and personal. Take note that the original 1988 campaign was an attempt to use motivational messaging in the marketing communications of Nike and the specific promotional campaigns for its products. The specific phrase aimed to inspire people to take action, become more active and engaged, and pursue their goals in life, regardless of obstacles.
Furthermore, through its straightforward and commanding tone, the slogan is a call to action. It specifically asks the audience to be proactive, determined, and persistent in the face of challenges. It encourages people to take action and overcome any doubts or obstacles in their way. The slogan represents, reflects, and reinforces the established brand identity of Nike which revolves around athleticism, motivation, and success.
Impact on Marketing
The 1988 campaign brought iconic advertisements that included a TV commercial featuring then-80-year-old running icon Walt Stack while jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge. The success of these advertisements and other marketing communications allowed the “Just Do It” phrase to stick around until Nike adopted it as its official slogan. It is a trademarked intellectual property that has appeared in several campaigns and marketing communications.
It is important to highlight the fact that the slogan has become one of the most iconic marketing catchphrases and slogans in the world. It has also become part of popular culture. The slogan has helped the Nike brand achieve a universal appeal and has provided consistency across the marketing communications and messaging of Nike.
The iconic status of the phrase has also provided the company with additional cost-free marketing and branding traction and mileage. This has helped in strengthening brand recognition for Nike. It has been referenced in music, television shows, movies, and everyday language while also finding its way into internet culture through internet memes and online viral content. Nevertheless, the “Just Do It” slogan is ubiquitous.