Bizarre meaning behind slogan makes you think twice

Rachel Stalker, ‘Doah Staff Writer 
January 15, 2014

'Doah photo courtesy of Nike.com

‘Doah photo courtesy of Nike.com

As Nike takes over the world of sports and athletic apparel, we see the phrase “Just Do It” everywhere. Have you ever wondered exactly where this infamous tagline comes from? The origin is much more controversial than Nike would ever let on.

Gary Gilmore was a man from Utah who, by the age of 35, had already spent half of his life in prison for robbery. According to Biography.com, Gilmore was let out on parole to his cousin Brenda Nichol, but shortly after he moved in with his girlfriend Nichole. After seeing how violent Gilmore was, Nichole left him. Biolography.com stated, “Over two days in 1976, Gilmore shot two men (a gas station attendant and a motel clerk) in cold blood during robberies.” He was turned in by his cousin, Brenda Nichol, tried and sentenced to death in October of 1976. Gilmore chose to be shot.

On Jan. 17, 1977, Gilmore was shot by a firing squad. According to the BBC, “A hood was placed over his head, a target attached to his t-shirt, and the five-man firing squad took aim and shot from behind a screen.”

His famous last words? “Let’s do it.”

From an article in The New York Times, Former Marketing Chief at Nike, Liz Dolan, “says in the film that the origins of ‘Just Do It’ were not widely known or acknowledged. That was not the version I heard when I arrived at Nike,” she said. “I’m sure they didn’t want anyone to really know.”

As Gilmore’s last words have been adapted from “Let’s do it” to Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, it is important to point out why Nike chose to have this represent their company. Gilmore was fearless and faced his destiny with courage. Just as Gilmore was courageous and died with dignity, Nike challenges its customers to be strong, powerful and courageous. The “Just Do It” campaign was Nike’s way of making its customers feel strong and powerful. Nike’s website says, “Challenge yourself. Challenge your friends. #justdoit”


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