Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

30 years of just doing it

Published 20 Jul, 2018 10:50am
The story behind one of the most successful taglines of the 20th century.

I can’t think of a more iconic line, or one more burned into our collective consciousness than ‘Just Do It’. Some say it is advertising’s last great tagline (being in advertising myself, I don’t say it, but some people do). Not only is it a great tagline, did you know it was inspired by Gary Gilmore, a prisoner on death row, who when faced with the firing squad said: “Let’s do it.” Later Dan Wieden (founder of Wieden+Kennedy) immortalised these words – well a slightly different version of them.

Launched in 1988, ‘Just do It’ was voted one of two of the most successful taglines of the 20th century because of its universally inclusive message which all the while remained intensely personal. The Nike logo and tagline have since been intertwined and it eventually got to the point where just the ‘swoosh’ did the job. You saw the swoosh and ‘Just do it!’ instantly came to mind.

This swoosh itself has a fascinating history. Picture this. It is 1971; disco is in full-swing, drugs are free-flowing and Nike is looking to create a logo that would last for decades – and an ambitious young woman by the name of Carolyn Davidson ‘swooshes’ in to save the day! Davidson, a student of Portland State, created a logo that encapsulated the spirit, passion and energy Nike wanted to communicate – and here we are 47 years later.

But where does the name ‘Nike’ come from? Are you ready kids? Get into my DeLorean and we’ll take a trip to ancient times. On second thought, maybe a DeLorean isn’t the best mode of transport. We are headed for ancient Greece, so a Hermès bag and a pair of winged sandals are more appropriate.

So, the Greeks worshipped Nike, the goddess of victory. Damn! This article is chock-full of feminist icons! Nike would descend on the battleground and bestow the victors with fame, power and the spoils of war; a very apt name for a sports brand. The Nike swoosh was meant to embody not only the fire and the fury of the goddess, but the spirit of healthy competition. The logo has changed very little over the years. It started out as a tick mark over ‘nike’ in Futura Bold and came in a variety of colours. By 1978, the logo changed from nike to NIKE. In 1985, the red and white combination was set on and by 1995, we had the solitary white swoosh on black that we all recognise today.

Nike is about to celebrate three decades of ‘Just Do It’. The tagline was premiered 30 years ago and ever since an entire generation has grown up with the tagline as part of the fabric of their daily lives.

As usual, Nike has come up with a great way to mark the anniversary; a pop-up store and a training facility in Los Angeles. The idea is to staff the facility with professional athletes and chefs who will provide tips on meal plans, training regimens and recovering from training related injuries. Some of the athletes on the panel include; NFL player Jared Goff, snowboarder Chloe Kim, NBA player Kyle Kuzma and Brazilian skateboarder Leticia Bufoni. Customers can browse the Nike boutique stocked with their latest gear. The store has been such a hit and there are now plans to keep the store running through mid-August.

Customers can sign up through Nike’s NTC app. Even if you aren’t in LA (most of us aren’t), you can download videos and training related content, including a podcast called Trained, which proposes lifestyle changes and holistic training methods. There is also an NTC Pro app for professionals looking for motivation and discounts on their favourite products. This activity has given Nike a much needed boost in sales and on social media. Nike is winning at the game of life. In the words of Wolfmother (an Australian hard rock band): “She will be victorious.”

Nyda Ahmad is Creative Manager, Fourays Advertising.