You'll never guess the origin of Nike's slogan...

Just Do It. We’re all familiar with the infamous tagline, from the moment we begged our mom’s for those crisp up-towns to seeing that omnipresent swoosh on sweatbands, billboards, and t-shirts. Nike’s signature tagline’s been linked with success for nearly 30 years, motivating winners young and old—and we love the brand for it. But, given the recent discovery of the slogan’s true origins, revealed by it’s creator Dan Wieden co-founder of advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, the brand’s triumph provoking message is about to take a dark turn.

At the Design Indaba in Cape Town last month, Wieden remembered the idea or rather the man behind the Nike catchphrase. In conversation with [Dezeen](, Wieden says, “I was recalling a man in Portland.” That man however, turned out to be Gary Mark Gilmore, an all-American criminal and multi-victim murderer.

Wieden admits that at first he had trouble finding a phrase that would tie the brand together, something that would hold up in commercials, on paper, and printed on sportswear. It also didn’t help that at the time, (we’re in the 80’s right now) Nike co-founder Phil Knight didn’t see the need for advertising, which nowadays we’d find totally shocking. According to Wieden, Phil Knight said, “We don’t need that shit,” where the ad-creator responded, “Just trust me on this one.”—Which evidently they did.

The brand’s agreement to use a slogan inspired by a murderer highlight’s Nike’s humor, and also their ability to harness the uncanny and turn it into something truly magnificent. ‘Just Do It’ has been described as the best tagline of the 20th century, despite it’s birth from the mouth of Gary Gilmore, the Portland criminal who in 1976 robbed and murdered two men in Utah, and killed a couple as well. A year later, Gilmore was brought before a firing squad to be executed. Wieden mentions that, "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’."

…And that’s the grim story behind the notorious Nike slogan.

Related Stories

New Stories

Load More


Like Us On Facebook