Nike needed to think fast, Reebok had a hold on the 1980s fitness market which had blown up with a fast growing aerobics craze. They needed something that spoke to the masses, that spoke to not only the biggest athletes in the world but also people like you and me. This is how, in 1988, “Just Do It” was created. Their idea was to run a campaign that would feature world class athletes and amateur athletes, each advertisement would focus on the reason behind why the athlete loved their sport with a highlight of their accomplishments. Nike hoped that the slogan would feel personal to the audience, hoping that everyone had a moment in their life where they had to push themselves to cross the finish line and maybe even tell themselves “just do it”.
Walt Stack looked like your typical grandfather, you would never know that he ran 17 miles every single morning. He was who Nike chose to feature in their first television advertisement for the “Just Do It” campaign. Mr. Stack was 80 years old when Nike featured him in an ad talking about being a marathon runner into old age. Nike wanted people to ask themselves, “if these athletes can do it, why can’t I?” and well it worked, almost immediately people from all over the world were contacting Nike with their own personal stories of championing through obstacles in their own sport. This campaign that was only supposed to last for a few ads has continued on, eventually becoming Nike’s brand slogan.
It is now 2022, and the campaign is stronger than ever with Instagram alone having over 20 million posts using the hashtag #justdoit. People can relate to the slogan when referring to anything from sports, to a job to just daily life which has made Nike not only one of the most popular choices for sports equipment but also just every day wear. In 2018 Nike tested just how big of an impact they had made on the world when they launched the 30th anniversary advertisement for “Just Do It” featuring Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick who had in 2016 started rallying against racism, had been signed with Nike for a number of years but had not been in a campaign since starting to protest. When the advertisement was released Nike endured a fury of backlash, which included people burning their Nike attire. Nike stood strong against the backlash, and ended up garnering more fans in younger age brackets who liked a large company standing up for what they believe in and voicing opinions a lot of young people share. The 30th anniversary advertisements ended up generating over $40 million in free advertising for the company.
Nike is now the biggest athletic attire brand in the world, with “Just Do It” considered one of the best campaigns ever launched. What campaigns stick out in your mind?