Nike Knows How to “Just Do It”

Nike, the leader in manufacturing footwear and apparel has been building and strengthening their brand since their first advertisement in 1982. Currently, Nike has become a household name and can be easily recognized by consumers by their iconic swoosh logo. Before running advertisements on television, Nike promoted their brand based on sponsorships and celebrity endorsements, both professional and college athletes. In order to differentiate their company from their biggest competitor, Reebok, Nike chose to promote their shoes as fashion accessories to consumers. They also began to focus their advertisements on the stories of the people wearing the product, instead of solely on the product.

As their brand was quickly growing, Nike employees decided to sign on with Wieden and Kennedy (an advertising agency) to help promote their brand. The “Just Do It” tagline was created while in a meeting when Dan Wieden (one of the founders) said to the Nike employees, “You Nike guys, you just do it.” With just that one phrase, the history of Nike advertising changed.


When the famous tagline, “Just Do It”, was first brought into their marketing scheme, Nike was trying to regain its position as the industry leader. During the 1980s the aerobics industry climaxed giving competitors an open range of new business development within the sportswear industry. In order to show consumers that Nike was different from its competitors, Nike held a major product and marketing campaign in 1987. The campaign was supported by a memorable TV ad whose soundtrack was the original Beatles’ recording of ‘Revolution.’ From the “Revolution” campaign, Nike then launched a broad yet empowering series of ads with the tagline “Just Do It.” The beginning of the “Just Do It” ads was in 1988 when a commercial airing Walt Stack, an 80 year-old running legend, jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge stating that he runs 17 miles every day. In 1989, Nike’s cross-training business peaked and the brand slogan had regained the position as the industry leader back to its rightful owner and has held this title since.

Nike entered the 1990s decade with a focus on sports players and designing national team uniforms around the world. In the past, Nike has designed apparel and footwear for golf and soccer. Nike decided to expand their sports designs to various sports including basketball, tennis, and football. Nike signed the World Cup winning Brazilian National Team as their uniform designing brand in 1995. Also they signed for the US men’s and women’s national soccer teams as well as many others. Nike also branded its company with by using iconic athletes in their commercials like Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Tiger Woods. In 1996, Nike sponsored the young Tiger Woods a gracious amount of $5 million per year. Tiger Woods proved his golfing abilities to doubtful critics in the 1997 Masters after winning by 12 strokes. “I’ve heard I’m not ready for you. Are you ready for me?” are the final lines of Nike’s obstinate introduction of Tiger Woods. In the 1996 ad titled, “Hello World”, Nike foreshadowed the future dominance the golfing world was about to encounter.

Nike boomed into the 20th century with the introduction of Nike Shox, which was a whole new type of shoe. Shox provide groups of small hollow columns in the middle of the shoe soles. These columns were designed to add an extra comfort factor to the shoe, as well as a spring that gives more power to an athlete. Shox have been one of Nike’s most successful products throughout their history. They also reinforced the idea that Nike truly cares about the comfort of the athlete. Throughout the 2000s Nike continued to improve their products and put time and effort into the advertising of the products. In 2003 Nike was named “Advertiser of the Year” by Cannes Advertising Festival, making it the first company to hold that title twice (the first time was in 1994). The following year their annual revenues exceeded $13 billion. Their obvious hard work was paying off.

Within the past 10 years, Nike has introduced several new types of shoes such as the Air Jordan XX and their eco-friendly Nike Considered line. Currently Nike has developed a 5 year plan with their goal being to reach a $36 billion revenue by 2017. They plan to reach this goal by focusing on the growth of the brand and giving extra attention to their women’s apparel. If there is one thing that Nike has successfully done over the last 25 years, it’s expanded and branded their products effectively.

Nike is a brand that never stops growing and developing. They continuously create goals for themselves as a company and seem know exactly how to keep reaching those goals. What do you remember most about the Nike brand over the past few decades?

– Hannah Turner, Emily Foulke, Briana McWhirter