Just Do It

Travel can be much more than the sum of the parts – if we set our minds to it

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

In the ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness, noth­ing is so near and dear to a mar­keter’s heart as a brand iden­tity that’s in­stantly rec­og­nized the world over. Think the curly-cue“C”in Coca-Cola, or the Golden Arches of McDon­ald’s. Not far down the list is the ideal slo­gan. Ad­ver­tis­ing nir­vana is a slo­gan that is so apt, so pithy and so rec­og­niz­able that it can stand on its own – with­out any ref­er­ence to the com­pany’s name or even its logo – and still read­ily call to the con­sumer’s mind the brand and the prod­uct.

One such slo­gan is“Just Do It.”Most of us don’t need to hear the name Nike or even see the tell­tale‘swoosh’to con­jure up im­ages of shelves full of run­ning suits and racks of shoes bear­ing names like Le­Bron or Kobe. (Al­though‘Nike,’the swoosh and the slo­gan are sel­dom seen ex­clu­sive of one an­other. An­other se­cret of a suc­cess­ful brand ID – as­so­ci­a­tion and rep­e­ti­tion.)

The bril­liance of Just Do It – which the ad­ver­tis­ing trade mag­a­zine Ad­Week has dubbed“the last great ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan”– is not just that it’s dis­tinc­tive or even mem­o­rable, but that it makes a very per­sonal con­nec­tion. Peo­ple own it. For many,“just do it” is not three sim­ple words; it’s a mantra, a per­sonal man­i­festo, an en­tire world view on a bumper sticker.

One of the joys of edit­ing a travel mag­a­zine is get­ting to travel. If you love the smell of jet fuel in the morn­ing – and I do – this is pretty much a dream job. But there are draw­backs, to wit: Ex­plain­ing to peo­ple what I do for a liv­ing. Those who aren’t breath­lessly clam­or­ing to ride along (“You need some­body to carry your lug­gage?”) usu­ally give me a funny look and ask,“Why on earth are you go­ing there?”

Case in point, my most re­cent wan­der­ings took me around the world, lit­er­ally. Now I’ve put in a fair num­ber of air miles in my time, but cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the globe was still an unticked box on my bucket list. So when the op­por­tu­nity came, I jumped at it. Those among you who speak flu­ent IATA air­port code will understand the fol­low­ing al­pha­bet soup: CLT, IAH, SFO, HKG, SIN, FRA, JFK, CLT. It was ex­haust­ing, ex­hil­a­rat­ing and en­light­en­ing.

But it was also really hard to ex­plain to my friends. The con­ver­sa­tions typ­i­cally went some­thing like this: Them:“Where are you trav­el­ing?” Me:“Around the world.” Them:“What’s the pur­pose of this trip?” Me:“Ummm, to travel.” Them:“But why?” Me:“Ummm, be­cause I’m a travel writer. So I travel, then I write about it.” (This ex­pla­na­tion was usu­ally fol­lowed by a fur­rowed brow and a mo­ment of be­wil­dered si­lence – then…) Them:“You need some­body to carry your lug­gage?”

Even those among my friends who are Top Gun Class A Road War­riors don’t really understand it. Mostly they are cor­po­rate types who are on a mis­sion, and the act of trav­el­ing is just a means to an end – an­other plane ride, an­other night in a ho­tel, an­other zil­lion fre­quent flyer miles. They’ve been con­di­tioned to think that the trip in and of it­self has no value.

With all due re­spect, they’re wrong. The trip’s the thing, to para­phrase the Bard, that can an­i­mate our think­ing and en­liven our con­ver­sa­tion. It can trans­port us not just to the next meet­ing, but be­yond, to the next great idea, the next amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the next new friend­ship.

So if the in­vi­ta­tion comes to travel around the world, I highly rec­om­mend it. And when your friends ask why – don’t even bother try­ing to ex­plain.

Just do it. BT

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