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The three words in the world more important than "I love you" are probably "Just Do It." Nike's slogan since the early days is iconic beyond any argument. It's simple, hits on a clear, universal message and has endured for decades. But the inspiration behind the inspirational quote is pretty damn dark. A couple weeks ago, Dan Wieden of legendary ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, told the story of how "Just Do It" came to be. Turns out it's a version of the phrase said by convicted murder Gary Gilmore moments before his execution by firing squad in Utah in 1977. I actually read the classic book about Gary Gilmore by Norman Mailer, The Executioner's Song, last year. It's more than 1,000 pages of pure insanity.
Per Wieden: "[Gary Gilmore] grew up in Portland, and ran around doing criminal acts in the country, and was in Utah where he murdered a man and a woman, and was sent to jail and put before a firing squad. They asked him if he had any final thoughts and he said: 'Let's do it.' I didn't like 'Let's do it' so I just changed it to 'Just do it'." You can read the rest of the interview here and then ask yourself if it's wrong to have used the words of a man who was about to be killed, justifiably or not, in a roundabout way for advertising. Sorry, not trying to make this Monday afternoon philosophical or anything.