Inspiration comes from everywhere, including the most unlikely of places. Maybe when you’re out walking, or maybe your niece says something funny. Or maybe a man gets executed for killing two people and you take his last words as inspiration for the Nike slogan, which goes on to be one of the most recognisable slogans ever. Maybe.
In Utah, July 1976, Gary Gilmore drove off after having a fight with his girlfriend and decided to stop at a service station. Once he got there he walked up to the attendant, Max Jensen, and pulled out a gun. He told Jensen to empty out his pockets and then go to the bathroom and lie on the floor. From there, Gilmore shot Jensen twice in the head.
The next day he drove to a motel. He walked in and told the hotel manager, Bennie Bushnell, to give him the cash box and get down on the ground. Just like before, Gilmore shot Bushnell in the head while he was lying on the floor.
While he was fleeing the scene, Gary Gilmore tried to throw the gun used in the murders into a bush, and failed spectacularly by shooting himself in the hand. After that particularly genius move, he went to his cousin’s place for help and painkillers. She obviously freaked out and called the police.
Gary Gilmore was sentenced to death, and chose to face the firing squad. Standing in front of the guns, he was asked if he had any last words.
“Let’s do it.”
This line was picked up by Dan Wieden, then the head of ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, who used it in a 1988 Nike commercial.
In an interview years later, Wieden said “I like the ‘do it’ part of it.”
If you’re picturing a scene from Mad Men, you’re probably not that far off. “None of us really paid that much attention. We thought ‘Yeah. That would work.’”
And work it did, because we’re still repeating Nike’s Just Do It slogan over and over again today.
Want something better to take inspo from? How about Gwyneth Paltrow’s wild energy?
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