• March 19, 2016
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Just Do It – It took 3 words to redefine advertising norms and foster a new religion of brand consciousness as never seen before. Arguably the best, most famous and easily recognized slogan of the 20th century.

It is interesting to note that Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder was not a great believer in advertising. But in the light of growing competition from Reebok in mid-80s, he enlisted a small agency in Portland, Oregon, called Wieden & Kennedy. It was the agency’s co-founder Dan Wieden who drew inspiration from an unlikely source – Gary Gilmore’s famous last words before the double-murderer was executed in Utah in 1977: “Let’s do it.”

Why Was the Campaign Successful?

# Timing of the campaign: Fitness was the new buzzword in America during mid 1980s. Nike tapped into this new-found desire for a healthy lifestyle.

# The ads were often humorous and hence with a great deal of recall.

# The advertising was bang on the product fit by imploring consumers to take charge of their physical fitness. The ads positioned exercise regime as a necessity.

# Nike’s communication cut across age and class barriers, linked Nike with success – and made consumers believe they could be successful too just by wearing its products. This also led to the brand being worn as a fashion statement, not just fitness gear.

# Like all great taglines, ‘Just Do It’ was both simple and memorable. It also was flexible and curious, allowing people to interpret it in their own manner, thereby establishing a personal connection with the brand.

# Celebrity endorsements also appealed to the consumers’ sense of belonging and Nike became an aspirational brand.

# ‘Just do it’ was imperative, impatient, presumptuous and a little rude – a totally new consumer experience.

‘Just Do it’ is in its 28th year now and no wonder that its 25th anniversary commercial [as below] has the 3 iconic words in its last frame:

In hindsight, the “Just Do It” campaign progressed beyond capturing the brand characteristics of grit, determination and passion to infusing humor for augmented brand recall – breaking free from its ‘detached, determined, unsentimental’ image to become a ‘cool’ brand.