How The Execution Of A Convicted Killer Inspired One Of The Most Famous Advertising Slogans Of All Time

Inspiration can strike at any moment — in the bathroom, the shower, on the ride into work and even reading about the execution of a convicted killer.

Dan Wieden, co-founder of the Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency, spoke at a conference last month and explained how the execution of a killer inspired him to create Nike’s famous “Just Do It” slogan.

The advertising executive said he thought of Gary Gilmore, who robbed and murdered two men in Utah in 1976 and the following year became the first person in the U.S. to be executed following a Supreme Court decision had found earlier death penalty statutes to be “cruel and unusual.”

Gilmore chose to be executed by firing squad instead of hanging, the two options under Utah law at the time, and waived his rights to appeal his conviction.

He was strapped to a chair Jan. 17, 1977, with a wall of sandbags behind him, as five local police officers faced him with their guns aimed through holes cut in a curtain.

“They asked him if he had any final thoughts and he said: ‘Let’s do it,’” Widen said. “I didn’t like ‘Let’s do it,’ so I just changed it to ‘Just do it.’”

Wieden presented the idea to Nike, and explained the origin, and naturally they absolutely hated it. Eventually, the company’s co-founder Phil Knight came around to the idea. Now over 30 years later and the slogan is almost as famous as the sneakers.

Gilmore’s execution also inspired a top 20 hit in the UK as well as books, movies, and plays.

[via Raw Story]

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Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about running, parenting, and professional wrestling.