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