August 7, 1988 – Nike’s “Just do it” takes on “Reeboks let U.B.U.”

During the summer of 1988, Reebok and Nike both unveiled new ad slogans to promote their athletic shoes.

The Reebok slogan was “Reeboks let U.B.U.”

It’s still being used by Reebok today.

However, it isn’t quite as well known as the Nike ad slogan that was also launched in the summer of ‘88.

Nike’s became one of the most famous slogans in advertising history.

It was a memorable phrase created by the Wieden & Kennedy ad agency of Portland, Oregon:

       “Just do it.” 

Nike first began using this slogan in an ad campaign launched nationwide on August 7, 1988.

It was initially used in a series of Nike TV commercials that featured sports celebrities like Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Andre Agassi and New York marathon winner Priscilla Welch.

Several of the ads were directed by high profile directors, including Spike Lee, Barry Sonnenfeld and Joe Pytka.

Of course, with great fame comes great spoofability.

Over the years, “Just do it!” has been snarkily parodied in countless ways.

For example, you’ve probably seen the black-and-white TV ad in which Tiger Woods, one of more recent Nike sports celebrities, stares dolefully at the camera while we hear a thoughtful voiceover by Tiger’s father.

This ad was apparently designed to show that Tiger is contrite about the sex scandal he was involved in, which blew up his marriage and almost blew up his career.

In the real version of that commercial, Tiger’s father ends it by saying: “Did you learn anything?”

In a parody version posted on YouTube, Tiger’s (fake) dad says: “Clean up your act, stop being a jackass, get out there and just do it — not her!”

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(To see some other funny take-offs on “Just do it,” check out this post on my site.)