July 24th, 2008

Still ‘just do(ing) it’

This year represents the 20th anniversary since Nike launched its now world famous three word slogan. The words “Just do it” serve as a battle cry that rallies the masses to get up from their seats and accomplish great feats (of course, while wearing Nike gear). They are releasing an ad campaign in conjunction with the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympic games commemorating the longstanding motto entitled “Nike:Courage”.

The video of it can be found here and it is (not surprisingly) quite stirring. Juxtaposing an image of a bald, cancer-recovering Lance Armstrong in a hospital bed with that of him atop his cycle, tanned, yellow jersey open, charging fiercely up the side of a French mountaintop is a powerful way to evoke an emotional response to Nike’s thesis. Is Nike appropriating his miraculous feat of a full recovery and an unprecedented six consecutive Tour de France titles with this ad or are they merely celebrating it?

The lifespan of their slogan is another feat that demands mentioning. Since 1988, the company has used the same three words as their mission statement, employing it in most ads and commercials. Their rival company, Adidas, however has gone through several different jingles (its latest being “Impossible is Nothing”). Discovering this raised an interesting question in my head. How many other slogans have other companies gone through since 1988 while Nike had remained loyal to theirs. Coca-Cola has had over a dozen different phrases they used to hawk their wares (it being from Wikipedia, I don’t know how much one can trust the accuracy of the list, but i recognize many of the different ones, which leads me to believe it is somewhat reliable). The same goes for McDonald’s, who had at least 15 different slogans over the past 20 years in the US alone!

One method of advertising (the Nike method of longevity) engenders you to the commodity by having a recognizable and static theme that categorizes how the company would like you to enjoy their product line.Whereas the other (McDonald’s and Coca-Cola’s changing taglines) asks you to keep stride as they constantly redefine how they want you to approach your experience with their merchandise. To us consumers, the latter method might cause a sense of being left out when we are not able to recall the latest slogan, which then leads us to pay greater attention to the company’s advertising. Either one points out the importance of slogans – the ability to boil down your mission statement into a single, catchy phrase. Perhaps, McDonald’s and Coke wish they could stick with just one, like Nike. As it seems, their’s just keeps doing it for them.

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