Just do it – the campaign that rescued Nike

“Just do it” has become the call to action for generations looking for inner motivation. It is one of the most successful catch phrases of the twentieth century but those three words “Just do it” started as a campaign to rescue Nike.

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But wasn’t Nike always awesome?

Yes. But awesome companies go broke all the time.

The year was 1988. Reebok had entered the market and taken the female aerobics sector successfully. Nike had experienced its first contraction in sales and as a result, had laid off 20% of its workforce. The brand was in trouble.

What would result is a campaign built on those three words “Just Do it”. A campaign that would last for 10 years and skyrocket Nike’s market share from 18% ($877 million) to 43% ($9.2 billion) and solidify it as a brand for the future.

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The brief

The obesity problem was front and centre in America at the time and the Nike brand had built itself speaking to the elite athlete. Things needed to change. Nike had an opportunity to speak to the athlete in all of us and motivate the everyday American to take control.

The “runners high” emotion was real and all that Nike had to do in its communications was figure out a way to tap into this spirit and become a protagonist for all that was good and true about it.

Jerome Conlon, the Global manager for marketing information remembers the situation:

“Nike at this point in time had an opportunity to become the protagonist of all that was great and uplifting about the experience of sports and fitness.”

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The result

The result is one of the most successfully long running campaigns in history. In fact, “Just Do it” is as famous as the “Nike” name and is the brand catch cry and purpose. Those words inspire and motivate us to find our inner athlete and push past our current state to attempt great things. Here’s a look at the campaign through the years.

 

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