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#Rightworthy: 30 Years of Just Doing It

Daaaaaamn, Nike. You just did it.

Chloe here, back with another #Rightworthy post! ICYMI, Nike disrupted the internet on Sept. 3rd unveiling the newest face of “Just Do It”, Colin Kaepernick, to celebrate the slogan’s 30-year tenure. One thing I think we can all agree with is, hard work requires sacrifice, requires focus, and most of all it requires belief in yourself. And whether or not you agree with Nike or Kaepernick, I think both “brands” took a huge leap of faith by releasing this print. It’s ballsy, and nothing short of what Nike has been encouraging us to do for the last thirty years.

On that note, let’s take a look at five of my favorite Nike “ads” throughout the years. I deliberately used “air quotes” because IMO these are not ads, they are not selling me a specific product as much as they are trying to penetrate my emotions, pull on the heartstrings and win over my brand loyalty organically and through excellent storytelling.

1: Just Do It (1988)

This is Nike’s first “Just Do It” spot, and how ironically fitting they would choose an octogenarian marathoner, Walt Stack, as their first mascot. Back then, before the days of mainstream internet, seeing ads on TV was like watching YouTube, but without a rewatch button. There was no googling Walt Stack, there was no debate online, no widely-tweeted think-pieces about the spot. What you see is what you get, and this ad leaves a lingering message that can only be found within ourselves.I believe the message Nike was trying to send was a humbling one. It was a call to the masses, like, “if he can do it, so can you, so what are you waiting for?” It is very inspiring, simple, and straight to the point.

2: Failure (1997)

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career
I’ve lost almost 300 games
26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot
and missed.
I’ve failed over, and over and over again in my life.
And that is why
I succeed.

Beautifully crafted copy for Nike’s 1997 Failure spot. As a native Chicagoan, I will – with total bias – say that Michael Jordan is the GOAT. That’s why it is so important to hear him talk about failure. Failure is the invisible other-half to success; especially in today’s world, where we are only showing the best of ourselves online, we forget that we need to fail to succeed. So who better to deliver the message than MJ, someone who is so revered for his success that his failures are obsolete in our minds. Tying it back to the main theme, unity: the “immortal” MJ is bringing himself down to the mortals’ levels, reminding us that he balls hard, but he fails even harder in order to succeed. It leaves me with this newfound sense of self-acceptance, and also a reminder to be kinder to myself as I navigate through my failures on the road to success.p.s. This commercial released in May 1997, and not even a month later Jordan championed through his infamous “flu game” in the 1997 NBA Finals, scoring 38 points (and eventually winning the game) while powering through intense flu symptoms. Just one reason why I think he is the GOAT 🙂

3: Move (2002)

This Emmy-award winning spot for the 2002 Olympics uses skilled editing, a perfectly-picked soundtrack, and a powerful message to win us over. Not to mention, it is relatable from the start, opening with a young adult casually running on the street. It’s almost as if you are dancing with the music through this spot, as it quickly cuts from one graceful athlete to another; the momentum never ceases. This is one of the most engaging ads I have ever seen because I just can’t wait to see the next scene. Bringing it back to the main theme of unity, I can’t help but be moved by all of these amazing athletes; it literally makes me want to jump out of my seat. Music and talent aside, the story that this is telling is one of unity: we all start somewhere (i.e. opening and closing shot), and with hard work we are able to propel ourselves to be our best, but it all starts with us.

4: Just Do It: Serena Williams (2018)

I dedicated an entire #Rightworthy blog post to Nike’s latest Serena commercial because it is literally the GAOAT (greatest ad of all time) in my book at the moment, so I will just drop the link here: #Rightworthy: 5 Reasons Why Nike’s Serena Ad Rules Them All

5: Dream Crazy (2018)

After igniting the internet (literally – people are burning their Nike gear because of this) earlier this week, Nike dropped a two-minute masterpiece yesterday surrounding its latest tagline “dream crazy.” Narrated by Colin Kaepernick, each line of this spot could be its own inspirational quote. Here are a few of my favorite lines below:

  • Don’t settle for homecoming queen or linebacker. Do both.
  • Lose 120 pounds and become an Ironman. After beating a brain tumor.
  • Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
  • If you only have one hand, don’t just watch football, play it. At the highest level.
  • Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.

In a span of 120 seconds we witness examples of intense bravery, perseverance, and overcoming all types of adversity to accomplish things that we’d otherwise consider crazy. All of the people featured are united in a common goal: to do the unthinkable. Yet by the end, when Kaepernick says “don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough” I am left with this feeling that nothing is unthinkable anymore. It just sounds crazy because no one has done it yet. It encourages me to be brave and take leaps of faith, not let any of my shortcomings hold me back, and to truly embrace the notion that crazy is just the baseline.

Want to become a better storyteller for your brand?

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