In 1976, Gary Gilmore shot a gas station attendant in Utah.
The man had already given Gilmore the money, but Gilmore killed him anyway.
The next day, Gary Gilmore shot a motel manager.
The man had already given him the money, but he killed him anyway.
Then Gilmore walked across to hide the gun under a bush.
In the process he shot himself in the hand.
He bandaged his hand and walked over to the garage where they were repairing his truck.
He paid the mechanic and drove off.
The mechanic noticed the blood dripping off the bandaged hand.
The dripping blood left a trail back to the gun that had killed both men.
Gilmore was arrested, tried, and found guilty.
Gilmore demanded the death penalty, he said he was sick of life.
Utah had just reinstated execution and Gilmore would be the first.
The ACLU made appeal after appeal against the execution.
Gilmore told them to mind their own business.
He was ready to die and he just wanted to get it over with.
In Utah, execution is done by firing squad.
Before they put the hood on him, they asked if he had any last words.
Gilmore was sick of talking, he’d made up his mind, there was nothing more to say, just get on with it.
He said “Let’s do it”.
In 1988, Wieden and Kennedy were working on the Nike account.
Dan Wieden had a lot of good work to present.
The main theme was taking sport seriously.
So they had a campaign of world-famous, highly-paid, sports superstars who took what they did very seriously indeed.
The trouble was it was all done by different creative teams and shot by different directors.
So it didn’t hang together as a campaign.
Dan Wieden said he always hated straplines because they were usually bland and meaningless.
But he needed something to pull everything together.
He needed a line that exuded the confidence of professional athletes but also translated into a message for ordinary people.
People who wanted to exercise, but were lazy.
People who knew they should go to the gym, but would let their mind talk them out of it.
He needed a message that said “Don’t listen to your mind, just get on with it”.
And he thought of someone else who’d said something very similar.
The message that also said no more talking “Let’s do it”.
And he thought, that’s it.
Just shut up and do it.
And he thought, hey – “Just do it” is even better than “Let’s do it”.
‘Let’s do it’ sounds like, come on let’s all go and do it together.
‘Just do it’ sounds like stop the talking, the excuses, cut the crap.
Just shut up and do it.
It fits the tough professionals taking sport seriously.
It fits the people buying sports shoes for their first visit to the gym.
In each case: don’t think about it “Just do it”.
Dan Wieden was right.
Nike now has a worldwide annual marketing budget of $2.7 billion carrying that strapline.
It’s a great example of keeping an open mind and letting all sorts of stories and influences in.
You never know where an idea is going to come from.