Nike: Try and Do It

do it

This is a paper I did for my journalism class about the new Nike advertising campaign. 

Nike, one of the leading footwear and apparel companies in the world, launched a new advertising campaign that puts a twist on their famed, “Just Do It,” slogan on April 12. The “Better For It,” advertisement acknowledges how much it may suck to workout for the average person. This campaign is akin to Nike saying, “I know it sucks, but just do it, you’ll be better for it.”

Dan Wieden, one half of the advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, was inspired by Utah killer Gary Gilmore’s famous last words before his firing squad death in 1977 in which he stated, “Let’s do it,” according to USA Today. Eleven years later, with a little tweak from Wieden, it became, “Just Do It,” one of the most recognizable and profitable advertising campaigns in the last quarter century. Those three words, one syllable each, demanding people to do something, turned Nike’s 18 percent share of the sports-shoe business in America into a 43 percent share by 1998 after only ten years.

Now Nike is going with something a little less pushy with the tagline, “Better For It.” In a push to expand its $5 billion women’s apparel line, according to, the advertisement features women of varying athletic capabilities begrudgingly going to the gym. The subtitle of one “Better For It,” advertising spot is, “Inner Thoughts,” featuring the annoyed thoughts of women as they workout. One woman, breathless, takes a break from running what she thinks is a “half-a-half marathon,” only to find out she’s barely run two miles. When three women join a spinning class with one woman, she quips sarcastically, “Great…three models right in front of me.”

Another advertisement, subtitled, “Best Intentions,” starts out with a woman doing a yoga pose with a voiceover saying, “Your legs had the best intentions this morning, they carried you into this room and now, they would like you to know, they’ve made a horrible, horrible mistake.” Then, she drops the yoga pose with shaky legs, but returns to it, defiantly telling her feet, “We do yoga now.” To further add grandiose to her defiance, the classic Superman film theme kicks in at the end. Unlike the “Just Do It,” campaign commanding us to do something, the “Better For It,” campaign is an acknowledgement of the struggle involved in a workout for normal people. It’s relatable, funny and still achieves the goal of being empowering. Underlining it, however, is still the gentle nudge suggesting we’ll be better for it, despite our initial discomfort and annoyance.

It’s not a flawless campaign effort, either, since even the woman that complained about the three models still looks like a model herself. Or the woman that was breathless after two miles still looked fit and abled. While their thoughts may be ours, their bodies aren’t necessarily reflective of the average persons. Even so, it’s comforting to see our own doubts verbalized by others. Moreover, in advertising, humor has a lot of currency and can go a long way, especially when conveying the trepidation approaching the trying of just doing it.

Nike’s press release on the campaign states, “With this rallying cry, Nike invites a global community of athletes to push themselves further, whether it’s a personal best in their latest marathon or a weekend run.” It remains to be seen whether this new campaign will expand their line of women’s apparel, but Nike’s certainly managed to capture the essence of the average person’s inner thoughts while working out: the overbearing insecurities, the awkwardness and the self-doubt. In doing so, they’ve created a highly relatable and down-to-earth campaign.

Additionally, it would’ve been nice to see some struggling, vulnerable men trying to work out. Not that I know anything about that experience…

better for it

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