A little weirdness goes a long way
Posted by Giles Lury on July 5, 2012
Comment on this article
At The Value Engineers we champion different ways of thinking, coming at problems from a variety of ways. For us it’s not just right or left brain thinking, we like to think analytically, analogically, deviantly and randomly. One of the stories in Jonah Lehrer’s excellent new book “Imagine: How creativity works” suggests we should add weirdly to our list.
Lehrer tells the story of the creation of one of the world’s most famous advertising end-lines and concludes that it illustrates the importance of “incorporating a little weirdness into the creative process”.
The line in question is Nike’s, and the weirdness is the source of inspiration for that line – the last words of a murderer, Gary Gilmore, who was executed in 1977.
In 1988, Dan Weiden was working on a new campaign for Nike and while he and his team had decided on a series of clips of different athletes from different sports, the problem was that the campaign lacked an end-line and the presentation to an expectant client was fast approaching.
Working late into the night, Weiden suddenly found himself thinking about Gary Gilmore.
“So it’s the middle of the night, and I’m sitting at my desk and I’m thinking about how Gilmore died. This was in Utah, and they dragged Gilmore out in front of the firing squad. Before they put the hood over his head, the chaplin asks Gilmore if he has any last words. And he pauses and he says ‘Let’s do it.’
And I remember thinking ‘That is so f*****g courageous.’ Here is this guy calling for his own death.
And then the next thing I know I’m thinking about my shoe commercials. I didn’t like the way it was said, actually, so I made it a little different. I wrote ‘Just Do It’ on a piece of paper and as soon as I saw it, I knew. That was my slogan”