Throwback Thursday: Nike ads just did it

The words “Nike” and “advertising” are as likely to evoke super-star athletes as they are inspirational paeans to striving and sweating. But a look back at classic Nike ads this throwback Thursday reveals a few surprises.

“Just do it,” one of the all-time classic slogans, is as core to the Nike brand as the shoe itself. But the tag, created by Wieden+Kennedy co-founder Dan Wieden, didn’t hit the air until 1988. Featuring a real-life octogenarian marathoner, the spot was completely celeb-free.

Later ads would would only become more elaborate — and star-studded. The original Air Jordan campaign was directed by Spike Lee and starred both Michael Jordan and Lee himself in character as the Jordan-loving Mars Blackmon. Other celebrity spokesmen included Dennis Hopper, who played a manic-fanatic ref, and the puppet Lil’ Penny.

Over the years, Nike ads moved beyond selling just sneakers to pitching the love of sport itself. In Tiger Woods’ first commercial for Nike, young aspiring golfers who can barely swing a club repeatedly say, “I am Tiger Woods.”

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