In a recent interview that took place at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, Dan Wieden, the Wieden+Kennedy advertising executive behind Nike‘s “Just Do It” slogan, opened up about the true meaning behind the three instantly recognizable words associated with the brand. In what he describes as a “surprising genesis” of the slogan, he recounts how in 1988, while working on Nike’s advertising campaign, he thought of Portland native Gary Gilmore who – after a series of crimes including murder – faced 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.’” He reasoned that Gilmore, Nike and his advertising company Wieden+Kennedy all came from the same city and so the statement was fitting. Still in use almost three decades later, the slogan together with Nike’s “Swoosh” logo helped to propel the brand into global recognition, surpassing then-rival Reebok. Simple and memorable always works best.
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