Nike Just Do It: facts about the campaign

Nike’s Just Do It: 10 Interesting Facts about this Iconic Campaign

When you hear “Just Do It”, we bet Nike comes to your mind immediately. It’s uncanny how this brand has transcended marketing to become a part of our everyday lives where we can say these three words (Just Do It) and our minds think of only one brand — Nike. 

Easily the most impactful campaign ever seen, curiosity caught up with us and made us dig a little deeper to find some interesting facts about this iconic campaign: we found ten facts we’d love to share with you.

Here are ten interesting facts about this iconic campaign:

1. It was created in 1987 by Dan Wieden, co-founder of the advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy to accompany Nike’s first major television campaign

Dan Wieden created the slogan for Nike’s first major television campaign that included commercials for running, walking, cross-training, basketball and women’s fitness in 1987. 

2. It was inspired by the last words of a convicted murderer, Gary Gilmore

Dan Wieden revealed in Doug Pray’s 2009 documentary about advertising, Art & Copy that he derived “Just Do It” from the actual words of a convicted murderer who, before he was executed by the firing squad, said, “Let’s do it!”.

“I remember when I read that I was like, that’s amazing. I mean how, in the face of that much uncertainty, do you push through that? So I didn’t like the ‘let’s’ thing, and so I just changed that, ’cause otherwise, I’d have to give him credit,” Wieden joked.

3. It was produced in just twenty minutes

That’s right. Wieden was creative enough to draw inspiration from Gilmore’s final words and simply swapped “let’s” with “just”. It took him only twenty minutes.

4. It was created to give unity to the series of commercials for the television campaign

Wielden also reveals that he felt the series of commercials needed an overall tagline. “In reviewing the work the night before the client presentation, I felt we needed a tagline to give some unity to the work, one that spoke to the hardest hardcore athletes as well as those talking up a morning walk.”

READ ALSO: A Look Back at the 12 Most Innovative Advertising Campaigns Ever Seen

5. Nike initially questioned it

The tagline was almost thrown in the bin by the client, Nike. They were reluctant to accept it until Wielden convinced them that it would be dropped if it didn’t perform well. “Nike questioned it. I said, ‘Look, I think we do. I believe we have too many disparate commercials that don’t add up to anything without a tagline. I’m not married to the thing. We can drop it next round.’ A lot of shrugged shoulders, but they let it ride.”

6. The creatives in the agency also questioned it

The creatives in the agency also questioned if the tagline was “really needed”. Wielden had to do a lot of convincing that night.

7. Audiences loved it immediately

No. This was not one of such campaigns that take time before they grow on you. The response was instant and it was positive. “The general public surprised us all,” Wieden continues. “Immediately Nike started getting letters, and phone calls, and so did Wieden + Kennedy.”

8. Nike gained over a billion dollars in less than ten years

The campaign translated to huge financial success for the sportswear brand. In less than ten years, the company made over a billion dollars — they moved from $800 million to over 9.2 billion dollars by 1998.

9. It led to Nike’s first women-focused campaign

The Just Do It momentum kept on growing to the point that Nike’s first dedicated women’s campaign appeared in 1991 and linked women playing sports with a new kind of female empowerment.

10. Nike considers “Just Do It” an encapsulation of their core mission

Davide Grasso, VP of global brand marketing at Nike, says, “We actually don’t believe in slogans. Instead, what we’ve found to be most effective is inviting people to join us in what we believe in and what we stand for. And what we stand for is to serve and honour athletes.”

“I think that’s why ‘Just Do It’ has had such an impact over the last 20 years and continues to. It’s genuine and speaks to our core mission.”