When it comes to sneakers and athletics, there's no slogan more memorable than Nike's "Just Do It," and its origins are more gruesome than you'd think.

Conceptualized by ad exec Dan Wieden of the Wieden+Kennedy agency, the iconic tagline dates back to 1988 and was actually inspired by a murderer named Gary Gilmore during the mid-'70s. After being convicted of two murders in Utah, Gilmore was sentenced to death by firing squad and his famed last words were, "Let's do it."

"For some reason I went: 'Now damn. How do you do that? How do you ask for an ultimate challenge that you are probably going to lose, but you call it in?' So I thought, well, I didn't like 'Let’s do it' so I just changed it to 'Just do it'," Wieden told Dezeen Magazine

Understandably, Wieden's morbid pitch was met with a fair amount of hesitation:  "I went to Nike and [Nike co-founder] Phil Knight said, 'We don't need that shit'. I said 'Just trust me on this one.' So they trusted me and it went big pretty quickly," Wieden recalled. Pretty quickly may be an understatement in this case, as the slogan quickly took off and was a key factor as Nike established their dominance in the sportswear market through the late '80s through early '90s.

Check out Nike's first television spot to feature the famous slogan below, and head over to Dezeen Magazine for the full interview with Dan Wieden.

[via Dezeen Magazine]