In 1977 Gary Gilmore chose to be executed by firing squad. When asked if he had any final words, he said, “Let’s do this.”
Meanwhile, Professor Richard Evans of Houston was teaching skills about how to resist peer pressure and other social influences. His solution? “Just say no.” Nancy Reagan decided to champion that slogan and it became the cornerstone of her husband’s War on Drugs.
Most of the ad writers my boss admires have long since passed away, but one remains. Dan Wieden is 76 years old. I doubt he has ever heard of the wizard, but it is obvious that Dan believes what my boss believes.
In every ad-writing class he teaches, the wizard tells his students, “Take your inspiration from wherever you find it, no matter how ridiculous.”
Dan Wieden believes that, too. While Gary Gilmore’s “Let’s do this” and Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no” were tumbling around in in his mind, Dan put together 3 words that became so famous they are now enshrined in the Smithsonian: “Just do it.”
I promise I’m not making this up. Dan has told that story numerous times.
And now I’ve told it, too.