Words that work: Nike
Editor Adam Reed tells us about a well-known use of copy that he finds inspiring in more ways than one…
I was eight when Nike signed off on the now iconic ‘Just Do It’ slogan.
It’s hard to comprehend now that, back in 1988, Nike wasn’t the ubiquitous global powerhouse it is today. But partly thanks to that simplistic, inspirational, three-word call to action, it wouldn't be long before then competitors such as Reebok were left trailing in the dust left by Nike’s Air Jordans.
Be that as it may, I recall, as a teenager, being mildly embarrassed to carry a rucksack I’d been given that was emblazoned boldly with ‘Just Do It’. To the energetic teenage me, who would happily spend every waking hour engaged in some form of sporting activity, the phrase felt unnecessarily pushy.
It's only in later life, as the pub has become more appealing than the park, that I've grown to appreciate the genius of ‘Just Do It’ and, even more so, the brand philosophy it conceived. How do you make more people want your product? By inspiring – even quasi-shaming – them to engage in activities that ensure they have a need for what you have to offer:
“Yesterday you said tomorrow.”
“Someone who is busier than you is running right now.”
“If you went running when you first started thinking about it, you'd be back by now.”
Complement such persuasive turns of phrase with campaigns that deify sporting icons proudly wearing your apparel and watch your stock grow.
Legend has it that ‘Just Do It’ was coined at a meeting between Nike and its ad agency, Wieden and Kennedy. Speaking admiringly of Nike’s can-do attitude, Dan Weiden reputedly remarked: “You Nike guys, you just do it.” The rest is, as they say, (advertising) history.
Yet some 24 years on, as Nike firmly leads the sports market into an exciting era of technological convergence with innovations such as Nike+ and Fuelband, ‘Just Do It’ remains as relevant as it did back when the most hi-tech sporting experience most of us could imagine involved a Sega Master System.