Nike Sells Confidence and Strength—And Also Shoes

Nike Ad Campaigns

Nike doesn’t just sell shoes. Nike sells courage and success. Nike is known for producing campaigns that empower viewers to strap on a pair of Nike sneaks, go outside, and take on the world.

The One that Started It All

In 1988, Nike launched the first Just Do It campaign, setting the stage for the company’s modern-day brand. The campaign features 70-year-old Walt Stack running a stretch of his daily 17-mile run in a pair of white Nike Airs. From this commercial onward, Nike’s ad campaigns have held a similar strain of confidence and inspiration first reflected in Walt Stack’s rhythmic steps.

Taking a Stand

A few years later in 1995, Nike took a stand against gender inequality in school sports with its If You Let Me Play Sports campaign. Nike’s campaign urges viewers to support the Title IX legislation enforcing gender equality in federally funded educational programs using its signature tone of courage and determination. Nike’s campaign was paramount in stimulating active support for the Title IX legislation and shifting national opinion about female participation in sports programs.

Empowering Everyone

In 2012, Nike launched the Find Your Greatness campaign to coincide with the London Winter Olympics. Arguably, the most famous ad in the campaign was a TV spot featuring an overweight middle-schooler, slowly running uphill to the calm voice of a narrator. In contrast with the super-athletes competing in the Olympics, “Find Your Greatness” emphasizes the common greatness lying dormant within everyone, if only he or she works for it.

Nike’s Latest

Nike’s latest campaign entitled “Better for It”, smartly speaks to the oft diminished psyche of girls and women. In a series of print ads, TV spots, and long form videos, the campaign gives funny-but-true insights into the thoughts women have while working out. Nike’s witty portrayal of women at the gym validates women’s apprehensions about exercise while still encouraging them to keep working towards their goals.

From 1988 to 2015, Nike has been enabling everyone—old and young, boys and girls—to find success within themselves, and of course with a pair of Nikes on their feet.