Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign… and How Marketing Works

| March 16, 2017

They say that a picture’s worth a thousand words. However, there is something that is even more powerful: a slogan. A good slogan will conjure up the image of a thousand pictures in only a handful of words.

“Just do it” is, without a doubt, the single most famous advertising slogan in American history. With such effective and successful marketing going on around you, how can you keep your eye on your pocket-book’s goals?

Without any images to accompany it, those three words immediately make people think of the Nike swish, along with countless clips of athletes performing feats of wonder, the stuff that childhood dreams are made of.

However, this didn’t just happen out of nowhere, the background of Nike’s infamous slogan was anything but certain when it happened. Indeed, the very company itself was on the ropes before a miraculous turnaround. Here is the history of Nike’s “Just do it”…

Where Nike was in the 1980’s

Nike is the most powerful producer of athletic shoes on the planet, today. Their products are sold throughout the world, and their profit share is beyond formidable. However, this was not always the case.

As a matter of fact, in the late 1980’s, only 30 years ago, Nike was in a major downward spiral. In late 1987, Nike was forced to lay off an enormous one-fifth of its entire workforce.

It struggled to compete with other powerful brands, like Adidas, who had scored major athletic endorsements. Nike needed a miracle and it needed it fast.

It was in this situation that a couple of advertising executives, Scott Bedbury and Jerome Conlon realized that most of the market was only focused on selling to male consumers who were already involved in competitive sports was only a sliver of the possibilities.

These customers only accounted for roughly a million people. However, if you could target anyone with an interest in fitness, then this number would skyrocket to around 150 million, easily.

With this knowledge, they hired the notorious advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, to come up with a brand that would strike a cord.

Why the slogan works

After being hired to find a strategy that would turn around Nike’s fortune, Wieden+Kennedy came back with the famous words: Just Do It. The beauty of this slogan is in the emotions that it is able to evoke with such simplicity.

It is a call to action that doesn’t drive consumers to the product, but to their own goals. Everyone has a mountain to climb in their own life. Everyone has their own fitness goals that are unique to them, whether they are already a professional athlete or a kid who grew up the runt of the litter and wanted to prove themselves.

“Just Do It” appeals to these base emotions, and it creates a feeling that we can do anything.

By attaching Nike to this image of the personal journey towards accomplishing one’s goals, the brand became an image of never giving up.

This opened up the market that Nike appealed to, tremendously.

Over the next 10 years, Nike’s revenue increased 10 fold, making it the most powerful athletic shoemaker on the planet.

Nike still kills it with advertising today

To this day, Nike is still a major force to be reckoned with, when it comes to advertising. They have always continued with their famous slogan, “Just Do It”.

After all, why wouldn’t you? However, they still continue to come up with impressive campaigns that drive across the message that their brand wants to convey: you can do it.

A great recent example of this was the “Unlimited You” campaign, which struck notoriety during the Rio Olympics, which urged people to see the potential inside of themselves. For more information about that incredible campaign, check out this informative article here.

Take it or leave it

When you’re trying to save money, marketing can be your enemy. It will make you want things you don’t need, and spend more than you have to just for the idea behind a product.

However, marketing can also be a tool. See, the most successful marketing campaigns, like Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, actually will refer to the goals and priorities that you already have.

With just a little mental work, you can remind yourself of the non-commercial priorities in your life. “Just do it” isn’t incentive to buy, it’s incentive to hit your goal savings.

Discover’s “Priceless” campaign is a reminder to not spend money, but remember those things in your life that go beyond market value.

Do you have any mental tricks you use to resist good marketing campaigns?



Category: Marketing

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