Nike first launched its Just Do It campaign in 1988.
According to the Yale Attitude Approach successful persuasion relies on three factors: source message and audience (Hovland, 1953).
The message in this case is a slogan the majority of individuals can relate to: the desire to reach our goals and push ourselves beyond our limits. The message delivered therefore contained an emotional element. The slogan is also concise and different, which makes it easier for the audience to recall.
According to the mere exposure effect: because it was displayed everywhere it made the audience familiar with the products and the brand, leading to them being perceived as more desirable (Zajonc, R. B., 1968).
Throughout the campaign Nike presented a number of famous athletes such as football players Ronaldinho and Wayne Rooney, basketball athletes Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant and tennis players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. This increased source credibility and desirability, boosting audience persuasion.
The Social learning theory suggests that the audience perceives these individuals’ behaviour and outcomes as desirable once they have purchased nike products. This kind of reinforcement makes the audience watching the advertisement want to reproduce the behaviour observed by buying Nike products. This led to the audience linking their purchases with the image of achieving success (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963).
Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L., & Kelley, H. H. (1953). Communication and persuasion; psychological studies of opinion change.
Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Vicarious reinforcement and imitative learning. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(6), 601.
Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66(1), 3.
Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 9(2p2), 1.