Top ten Nike ‘Just Do It’ ads

Nike’s famous “Just Do It” strapline has been at the centre of many iconic adverts over the years as the brand has gone on to be revered as one of the most innovative advertisers in the industry. As the company celebrates the 25th anniversary of its famous slogan, Marketing Week picks out ten of the most memorable ads it has graced during that time.

1988 – Walt Stack

1988 was where it all started for the slogan. Nike kicked off the “Just Do It” campaign with an advert featuring 80 year-old marathon runner Walt Stack chatting about his daily 17-mile run. Inspiring yet simple.

1993 – Charles Barkley “I am not a role model”

The NBA player gained worldwide attention in 1993 when he wrote the text for his “I am not a role model” TV spot. The ad continues to divide fans to this day but in a post Armstrong, Woods and Bryant sporting landscape, its message could not be any more thought provoking.

1996 – “Good vs Evil”

The ad that inspired school kids around the world to turn up their shirt collars as they took to the pitch, ranks as one of Nike’s best. It shows a dream team of European footballers from the 90s including Eric Cantona, Edgar Davids and Ian Wright as they take on a team of evildoers intent on destroying the world. It ends with the iconic Cantona collar-up “Au Revoir” shot which cemented the Frenchman as an icon of the game.

1996 – “Hello World”

Nike introduced Tiger Woods to the world when he turned pro in 1996 with its “Hello World” TV spot. Few could have predicted just how much of an impact the mercurial talent would go on to have in golf, however, Nike’s ad confidently hints at the achievements that would soon follow.

2004 – “Do Anything”

Nike flexed its creative muscles in 2004 with the “Do Anything” ad by imagining what would happen if top ambassadors at the time such as Serena Williams and Andre Agassi competed in different sports such as gymnastics and baseball.

2006 – Maria Sharapova “Pretty” 

In 2006 Maria Sharapova was taking the tennis world storm after becoming the world number one a year earlier. Nike took the opportunity to run its first ad with Sharapova as its ambassador. The tongue-in-cheek effort is soundtracked to the West Side Story hit “I’m So Pretty” in an attempt to dispel the “Pretty Girl” image some were labelling the Russian with at the time.

2006 – Kobe Bryant ”Love Me or Hate Me”

Nike’s ad with Kobe Bryant is key because it was the first to feature the LA Lakers star after he was accused of sexual assault. The brand stood by their man when others walked away and effectively re-introduced him to a global audience.

2007 – “No Excuses”

Nike’s “No Excuses” ad keeps it simple by bringing in American wheelchair basketball player Matt Scott to reel off the excuses people use not to do something. Like all of Nike’s best ads, “No Excuses” takes a simple premise but layers it with several thought-provoking insights into self-motivation.

2008 – Bottled Courage

Nike’s thinly-veiled 2008 Beijing Olympic Games tie-in opts for the tried and tested method of contrasting moments of sporting success with moments of sporting achievements. Never one to rest on its laurels, Nike uses the Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” single alongside some iconic imagery to highlight the sacrifices athletes make it to reach their goals.

2010 – Wayne Rooney St George’s Cross


Plenty of praise has been heaped on Nike’s TV and digital marketing over the years, but it should not detract from the brand’s work in print. Its Wayne Rooney St George’s cross print ad was the perfect rallying cry to the nation ahead of its make-or-break clash against Sweden at the 2010 World Cup.