Nike’s ‘Just Do it’ slogan was inspired by a convicted killer’s last words
The slogan was pitched by advertising executive Dan Wieden about three decades ago, who had stated that the words were inspired by Utah killer Gary Gilmore, who was sentenced to death in 1977 for robbing and murdering two men. Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” slogan was described as one of the best taglines of the 20th century. Dan The condemned man reportedly said, “let’s do this” as he faced a firing squad. Dan decided to suggest a slightly altered version as the slogan, which first appeared in a Nike advert in the same year featuring 80-year-old runner Walt Stack.
Interestingly, initially Nike hated the idea, but then he won them around with the slogan successfully debuting in that TV ad. It marked a new era for the brand. The advertising executive behind nike’s “Just do it” slogan had told Dezeen how he based one of the world’s most recognizable taglines on the words of a convict facing a firing squad (+ interview). “I was recalling a man in Portland,” Wieden told Dozen, remembering how in 1988 he was struggling to come up with a line that would tie together a number of different TV commercials the fledgling agency had created for the sportswear brand.
“He grew up in Portland, and ran around doing criminal acts in the country, and was in Utah where he murdered a man and a woman, and was sent to jail and put before a firing squad.” Wieden continued: “They asked him if he had any final thoughts and he said: ‘Let’s do it’. I didn’t like ‘Let’s do it’ so I just changed it to ‘Just do it’.” Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who was skeptical about the need for advertising, initially rejected the idea. “Phil Knight said, ‘ We don’t need that shit’,” Wieden said. “I said ‘Just trust me on this one.’ So they trusted me and it went big pretty quickly.” The slogan, together with Nike’s “Swoosh” logo, helped propel the sportswear brand into a global giant, overtaking then-rival Reebok, and is still in use almost three decades after it was coined. Like all great taglines, it was both simple and memorable. It also suggested something more than its literal meaning, allowing people to interpret it as they wished and, in doing so; establish a personal connection with the brand. Source: Dezeen.com