Ad Executive Dan Wieden Came Up With Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ Tagline | Kanebridge News
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Ad Executive Dan Wieden Came Up With Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ Tagline

Oregon native, who has died at age 77, co-founded Wieden+Kennedy and advised colleagues to ‘walk in stupid every morning’

Thu, Oct 6, 2022 9:20amGrey Clock 3 min

One thing Dan Wieden didn’t want to do as a young man was to follow his father into the advertising business. “I could never figure out why he was in such a whorish industry,” Mr. Wieden told Adweek magazine in 2003.

In the mid-1960s, he majored in journalism at the University of Oregon. He married young and had children in his 20s. That meant a need for steady income and led to advertising. The challenge of packing a lot of meaning into a few words hooked him. In 1982, he joined David Kennedy to found the ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, based in Portland, Ore.

They had one client: Nike Inc., then a small company. It was a perfect fit. Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder, loathed conventional advertising. The new agency’s founders were inclined to pitch ads that were offbeat, edgy and artistic. In 1988, Mr. Wieden came up with Nike’s tagline, “Just Do It.”

The Nike ads helped vault a tiny regional shop into a global advertising firm. Subaru of America hired Wieden+Kennedy in 1991. Since then a long list of clients has included Starbucks Corp., Microsoft Corp., McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. The firm has about 1,500 employees and offices in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

To avoid the risk of being gobbled up by a giant holding company, Mr. Wieden created a trust to preserve the firm’s independence.

Mr. Wieden died Sept. 30 at his home in Portland. He was 77 and had Alzheimer’s disease. His partner, Mr. Kennedy, died a year ago at the age of 82.

Mr. Wieden (pronounced why-den) attributed the firm’s success partly to a habit of hiring misfits and oddballs rather than seasoned advertising pros. As for managing people, he said, “I think people need to feel safe but still under pressure in some weird way, a healthy pressure. People need to feel that you’re rooting for them to succeed.”

Wary of complacency, he advised advertising people to “walk in stupid every morning.” As he put it: “The minute you think you know, the minute you go, ‘oh, yeah, we’ve been here before, no sense reinventing the wheel,’ you stop learning, stop questioning, and start believing in your own wisdom, you’re dead.”

Messrs. Wieden and Kennedy “didn’t really dictate or mandate,” said Bill Davenport, a longtime colleague. “They let people find their way. In some ways, it was a sink-or-swim culture. But they never had a heavy hand.”

Dan Gordon Wieden was born March 6, 1945, and grew up in Portland. His father, Francis “Duke” Wieden, was president of Gerber Advertising.

After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1967, the younger Mr. Wieden wrote marketing material for Georgia-Pacific Corp. He hated the job and, by his own admission, created so much trouble that he finally got fired. He tried freelance writing and then joined the ad firm of McCann-Erickson. There he met Mr. Kennedy, whose artistic skills and humor complemented Mr. Wieden’s writing talent.

At first, their office was furnished with a card table and cardboard file cabinets. They used a pay phone to call clients.

The firm set itself apart by using a collage of New York street scenes, featuring Lou Reed and his song “Walk on the Wild Side,” to promote Honda scooters. A few years later, Wieden+Kennedy combined the versatile athlete Bo Jackson with Bo Diddley in an ad for Nike.

Mr. Wieden’s first wife, Bonnie Scott Wieden, died in 2008. He married Priscilla Bernard in 2012. She survives him, along with four children, six grandchildren, a brother and a sister.

In 1996, Mr. Wieden and his family founded , which runs a summer camp at Blue Lake in central Oregon and other programs to nurture young people. “He wanted to create a place where kids felt safe and loved,” his wife said.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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Capri Coffer socks away $600 a month to help fund her travels. The Atlanta health-insurance account executive and her husband couldn’t justify a family vacation to the Dominican Republic this summer, though, given what she calls “astronomical” plane ticket prices of $800 each.

The price was too high for younger family members, even with Coffer defraying some of the costs.

Instead, the family of six will pile into a rented minivan come August and drive to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Coffer booked a beach house for $650 a night. Her budget excluding food for the two-night trip is about $1,600, compared with the $6,000 price she was quoted for a three-night trip to Punta Cana.

“That way, everyone can still be together and we can still have that family time,” she says.

With hotel prices and airfares stubbornly high as the 2023 travel rush continues—and overall inflation squeezing household budgets—this summer is shaping up as the season of travel trade-offs for many of us.

Average daily hotel rates in the top 25 U.S. markets topped $180 year-to-date through April, increasing 9.9% from a year ago and 15.6% from 2019, according to hospitality-data firm STR.

Online travel sites report more steep increases for summer ticket prices, with Kayak pegging the increase at 35% based on traveler searches. (Perhaps there is no more solid evidence of higher ticket prices than airline executives’ repeated gushing about strong demand, which gives them pricing power.)

The high prices and economic concerns don’t mean we’ll all be bunking in hostels and flying Spirit Airlines with no luggage. Travellers who aren’t going all-out are compromising in a variety of ways to keep the summer vacation tradition alive, travel agents and analysts say.

“They’re still out there and traveling despite some pretty real economic headwinds,” says Mike Daher, Deloitte’s U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader. “They’re just being more creative in how they spend their limited dollars.”

For some, that means a cheaper hotel. says global search interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally. Booking app HotelTonight says nearly one in three bookings in the first quarter were for “basic” hotels, compared with 27% in the same period in 2019.

For other travellers, the trade-offs include a shorter trip, a different destination, passing on premium seat upgrades on full-service airlines or switching to no-frills airlines. Budget-airline executives have said on earnings calls that they see evidence of travellers trading down.

Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, released Tuesday, found that average spending on “marquee” trips this year is expected to decline to $2,930 from $3,320 a year ago. Tighter budgets are a factor, he says.

Too much demand

Wendy Marley is no economics teacher, but says she’s spent a lot of time this year refreshing clients on the basics of supply and demand.

The AAA travel adviser, who works in the Boston area, says the lesson comes up every time a traveler with a set budget requests help planning a dreamy summer vacation in Europe.

“They’re just having complete sticker shock,” she says.

Marley has become a pro at Plan B destinations for this summer.

For one client celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a budget of $10,000 to $12,000 for a five-star June trip, she switched their attention from the pricey French Riviera or Amalfi Coast to a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.

To Yellowstone fans dismayed at ticket prices into Jackson, Wyo., and three-star lodges going for six-star prices, she recommends other national parks within driving distance of Massachusetts, including Acadia National Park in Maine.

For clients who love the all-inclusive nature of cruising but don’t want to shell out for plane tickets to Florida, she’s been booking cruises out of New York and New Jersey.

Not all of Marley’s clients are tweaking their plans this summer.

Michael McParland, a 78-year-old consultant in Needham, Mass., and his wife are treating their family to a luxury three-week Ireland getaway. They are flying business class on Aer Lingus and touring with Adventures by Disney. They initially booked the trip for 2020, so nothing was going to stand in the way this year.

McParland is most excited to take his teen grandsons up the mountain in Northern Ireland where his father tended sheep.

“We decided a number of years ago to give our grandsons memories,” he says. “Money is money. They don’t remember you for that.”

Fare first, then destination

Chima Enwere, a 28-year old piano teacher in Fayetteville, N.C., is also headed to the U.K., but not by design.

Enwere, who fell in love with Europe on trips the past few years, let airline ticket prices dictate his destination this summer to save money.

He was having a hard time finding reasonable flights out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., so he asked for ideas in a Facebook travel group. One traveler found a round-trip flight on Delta to Scotland for $900 in late July with reasonable connections.

He was budgeting $1,500 for the entire trip—he stays in hostels to save money—but says he will have to spend more given the pricier-than-expected plane ticket.

“I saw that it was less than four digits and I just immediately booked it without even asking questions,” he says.


Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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