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Nike’s JUST DO IT is the most iconic company slogan of all time. 

Can that be argued?

Here’s a little history on how it was created….
In 1988, Dan Wieden, founder of Wieden+Kennedy, had a number of teams working on the Nike account to create a 30-second commercial that he could pitch to Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight.  Wieden was concerned that there was no cohesive theme. He needed a slogan. While brainstorming the slogan, Wieden referenced double-murderer Garry Gilmore’s infamous last words, “Let’s do it,” while Gilmore was on death row.  Despite the slogan’s massive success in  ushering in a new era for Nike,  it also came with some controversy. 


When Wieden initially pitched the idea to Knight, Knight was reluctant to use the slogan, and skeptical on Nike’s need for advertising in general. To this, Wieden responded, “Just trust me on this one.” JUST DO IT proved to be simple enough that it could be understood globally.  When companies today attempt to come up with slogans to embody their mission, JUST DO IT is the gold standard.


Nike has certainly evolved since its first campaign, yet JUST DO IT remains the blueprint for many of Nike’s marketing initiatives. In our most recent project, we partnered with Nike for its new training campaign: Just Don’t Quit. A spinoff off of the iconic slogan, Just Don’t Quit coincides with the release of the Metcon4 training shoe.


JUST DO IT means something different for everyone. However, Nike has masterfully made it a relatable phrase that drives much of what we do, in sport and in life.


Check out the evolution of JUST DO IT from the first ad 30 years ago.

1988 | The Beginning

What says JUST DO IT more than 17 morning miles? Nike’s first spot using its new slogan,  featured an 80 year old runner, Walt Stack, providing inspiration for everyone to get active.


1990 | BO KNOWS

In the late 1980s due to the rise of cross training, Nike launched its training division featuring signature shoes by athletes including Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Nike wasn’t just a brand for runners, they catered to athletes who JUST DO IT in multiple arenas.


1993 | THE GOAT

Michael Jordan was on his way to becoming Nike’s most iconic athlete when they released this ad in 1993 to push MJ’s own shoe line, Air Jordan.


1995 | If You Let Me Play

While Title IX was initially passed in 1972, even today there are discrepancies between mens’ and womens’ sports at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. Nike’s commercial in 1995 “If You Let Me Play Sports” looked to encourage both female athletes and others to get in the game.



Any athlete knows that injuries, in addition to nasty scars, often come with the game. Nike released this ad in 1999 to encourage athletes to embrace the not-so-perfect parts of their bodies.


2006 | P-ROD

In effort to reach a new target of athletes, Nike signed skateboarder Paul Rodriguez. P-Rod launched his first signature shoe in 2005.





Professional athletes like LaDainian Tomlinson, Diana Taurasi and Steve Nash inspired athletes, across all sport categories, to train harder and BE BETTER by game day.


After Kobe Bryant’s season-ending achilles injury in April of 2013, Nike went beyond what most brands do, and challenged Bryant to come back stronger than ever. Not only did they provide inspiration to Bryant, but other athletes facing injury as well.

2015 | Last

Despite athletes like Mohamed “Mo” Farrah, Shalane Flanagan & Kevin Hart being at the forefront of Nike’s running campaigns, the brand also painted a relatable picture of the not-so-glamrous, but equally “real” parts of running a marathon.


2016 | Nike Gone Global

A Nike China commercial with a simple message: JUST DO IT your way, not theirs.

Even in 2016, it was unprecedented for a major sports brand to include a transgender athlete in a national campaign. Nike’s campaign featuring Chris Mosier, the first transgender athlete to compete on a U.S. National team, showed the brand’s commitment to inclusion in addition to the JUST DO IT mindset Mosier embodied.


Diesel Films partnered with Nike West in the production of its Just Don’t Quit campaign, inspired by the iconic slogan JUST DO IT. Stay tuned for its release.

Maggie Szabo | Brick LA


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