The 10 best Nike Ads

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

nike adsNike is one of the Beloved Brands of all time, and “Just do it” has been one of the best tag lines in history. Consistently, over the last 20-30 years, they’ve used inspiration and challenge to deliver the “Just Do It” advertising idea. Nike does such a good job owning inspiration that when I see someone else copy this area, I think “wow that’s a good spot, but that’s so Nike”. And then when I see Nike try to get funny or cute, I think “That’s not Nike, it’s off strategy for the brand”.

When we measure advertising, we look at the ABC’S, attention, branding, communication and stickiness. Nike’s “Just do it” has been sticking in the minds and hearts of consumers since the mid 80s.

How to Predict Advertising Success

Taking smart and different to the measurement of advertising success, most tests will measure attention versus motivation of consumers. The creativity of Advertising (how you say it) has to breakthrough the clutter, in order to connect with consumers, while linking brand closely to the story. It must gain attention while ensuring the brand is an integral part of that breakthrough. The brand’s main message (what you say) has to motivate consumers to think, feel or act differently, than before they saw the message. The Advertising must communicate the main message in a ways that sticks in the consumers mind.

Based on this type of predictive tool, the best Advertising must:

  • Gain the consumers’ Attention to break through (A)
  • Puts spotlight on Brand so it is remembered (B)
  • Communicates brand’s main message through story (C)
  • Sticks in the consumer’s mind, making the brand seem different (S)

Here are ten Nike ads to inspire you to be smarter at advertising:

If you let me Play Sports

This is for all the women who kick ass in sports, including my daughter. This ad is from back in the late 90’s, Nike was ahead of its time. A likely inspiration to 2015’s the Always brand of: “throw like a girl”. This ad is huge on communication, using emotion to stick with the consumers.

No Excuses

If this doesn’t get you off your ass and go to the gym, then nothing will. This is a highly challenging ad that talks about all the possible excuses, but with a surprise ending that takes away all those excuses. The aggressive tone helps gain the consumer’s attention, the ending helps communicate and stick.

Michael Jordan “Failure”

For the GOAT (greatest of all time) this shows a glimpse of the human side of Michael. The ad’s communication attempts to humanize all the mistakes Jordan made. This is clearly geared to gaining attention among the mass fan audience. MJ has done more for the Nike brand than anyone.

Charles Barkley “I am not a role model”

Maybe not quite inspiring but truthful. This is long before all the disgraced athletes–Lance, Tiger, Kobe–and keeps it real as to athlete vs. celebrity vs. role model. This was a highly controversial message and generated a ton of media attention, as sports talk shows debated this message for weeks.


This is a highly attention grabbing ad. Nike created a hip-hop track, then matched up the bouncing basketballs to that track, giving the illusion of a very musical ad. I was in the kitchen the first time this came on the air, and based on the sound alone, I was drawn to the TV to see what was making this sound. Nike released a ‘making of’ documentary that aired on sports networks. I watched it. The attitude and entertainment value helps this ad to stick.


This is a low attention Nike ad, but high on communication. It’s targeted more to the serious runners, layering in the insights of how it feels to be a runner. It communicates how runners have to fight against the natural tendency to just stay in bed.

Colin Kaepernick

In September of 2018, Nike launched their most controversial ad, in support of Colin Kaepernick. From a PR perspective, one simple tweet by Colin Kaepernick touched off a huge Twitter storm. Regardless of the controversy, this is one of Nike’s best. The poetic copy is beautifully written and the related visuals are flawless in telling their story.

Find your greatness

For the 2012 London Olympics Nike continued their attempt to dominate the games without even sponsoring.  This spot goes as far as showing all the different London’s around the world.  The communication of “Find your greatness” speaks to what the Nike brand is all about. No matter who you are and what you want to accomplish, reach down and find your own greatness. A beautiful idea. There was a survey asking who the Olympic sponsors were, and twice as many people said Nike than said Adidas.

Unlimited Together

From the 2016 Olympics, a beautiful authentic view of the US olympic basketball team, with Chance the Rapper providing an amazing track. This is a great attention getting ad that communicates with the basketball fans. Very cool ad.


I want to end with what I think is my favorite Nike Ad. I know this one receives mixed reviews but I believe in all of us there is someone who is fighting against what we were burdened with. In this case it’s weight. But I love that he’s trying.


What is your favorite Nike Ad?


To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link:

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link:

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.


Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.


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