Yesterday, I admitted to the tough start I’m having in 2014. It’s nothing in particular and that’s what bugs me the most. And so I tried to go about my business of working, which definitely helped, and decided to raid my little folder of inspiration.
Over the years, I’ve clipped little pictures and articles from all different sources, mostly magazines, and stashed them away in a folder. While there’s no loss of inspiration on the internet, magazines still feed the creative in me. Perhaps it’s the visceral feel of paper and ink but a picture in a magazine always stays with me more than anything I can find on Pinterest.
While digging in my little folder, I decided it was time to share an ad that I’ve been holding onto for probably two decades.
This is a Nike ad from the early nineties, probably from a women’s magazine. I’m sure I pulled it from whatever I was reading back then: Self, Shape, marie claire, and probably others that have long since ceased publication. I remember breaking the binding of the magazine so I could remove the ad as cleanly as possible. I needed to save this. I couldn’t have dreamed that twenty years later I’d be writing about it but I’m glad I had the foresight to save it.
Hope you love it and get goosebumps from it just like I do.
Falling in Love in Six Acts
A passion play
(Or what happens when you fall down that long well of passion over a person, a place, a sport, a game, a belief, and your heart goes boom and your mind leaves town.)
(I think I love you. Who are you anyway?)
Here it is, the big “wow,” the big “gee,” the big “yesyesyes” you’ve been waiting for. This is where you find something or someone and believe they are better, greater, cuter, wiser, more wonderful than anything you have ever known.
Lust isn’t a sin, it’s a necessity, for with lust as our guide we imagine our bodies moving the way our bodies were meant to move: we can do marathons with our feet, lift pounds with our arms, have stars in our eyes and do a nifty tango. And you think:
I have no need of food, I have no need of sleep, I have no needs other than occasionally chewing a breath mint. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me, probably because you haven’t happened to me yet. Now I can pass into the next Act, so poetically called:
(Or: Oh Yippee, you’re mine.)
You feel funny inside. You feel funny outside. You feel you could do anything and no one would dare laugh at you.
This love, you will treasure. You will not put it in the basement next to your rowing machine, treadmill, and thermal body sweat wrap. And you will not take this love for granted, because that is the biggest sin of all. And you say:
I feel so good, I feel so strong, I feel actually attractive and I could learn to live with that feeling. Oh let us sing and dance and eat brown mushy foods low in fat! Oh joy! Oh rapture!
Oh but what if I’m no good at this? Oh, I am no good at this. I am a dingy speck on the wall of humanity and look how badly painted that wall is! I am becoming very, very afraid. That must be because I’m passing into the Third Act, called:
(Also known as: Uh-oh.)
This is where the doubt begins, where the mind comes back from shopping, yells at the heart, binds and gags it to a nice lounge chair and allows guilt, failure, and remembrances of things past to sit in for a nice game of bridge. This is where you fear what you need most. If it’s a person you love, you fear appearing foolish in front of them. If it’s a sport, you fear being foolish in front of many, many people at the same time. And you begin to think:
oh, no. What if I’m wrong? What if this stinks? What if my heart has blinders on, it’s had blinders on before, in fact it had dark heavy patches taped all over it. How can anyone love me if I don’t love myself? I mean, I love myself, there are just parts between the top of my head and the bottom of my feet that could use some improvement. I’m not demeaning myself, I have relatives who do that.
(And the strange desire to eat everything in sight, hide in your room, and watch old Gidget movies with friends from high school.)
Now comes that unavoidable time when you say to anyone who will listen: what the heck am I doing, anyway? If it’s a person you love, first you hate only their foulest inadequacies, then you start hating their good points as well. If it’s running you love, you start to hate hills, sidewalks, and bad weather, and soon anything that slightly resembles a bump, concrete, or a small breeze.
I can’t believe I ever said I felt this way, I must have been dreaming! Wait, THIS IS NO DREAM, THIS IS A FILM NOIR MOVIE, and one of those really dark ones, too. I mean, this is love? This is what they tell you about when you’re 11 and naive? Or 32 and more naive?
(Love is hard work. And, sometimes, hard work can really hurt.)
Love is a game. If they didn’t tell you before, we will tell you now. Love is a game and if you play you either win, lose, or get ejected before the game is over.
There are no ties.
Maybe you’ll lose and learn some great meaningful answer from it all (Like if it looks too good to be true, it is). It’s easy to love something when you don’t have to work at it. It’s harder when it asks something of you, you just might be afraid to give.
Give it anyway.
The heart is the most resilient muscle. It is also the stupidest. So if this love you’ve found is good to you, hold it, keep it, shout about it. If it isn’t, then maybe you should just become very good friends.
(Also known as the big whopperdoodle, or, the most important part of this whole darn thing.)
So this is love, as demanding and nourishing and difficult as it can be, and as strong and wise as it makes you become.
There is something to be gained from commitment. There are rewards for staying when you would rather leave. And there is something to be said for running up that hill when you would rather slide down it. And so you let love come perch upon your shoulder. And you do not turn it away.
You do the tango.
Just do it.
The only thing on this ad that says Nike is the little logo in the upper right corner on the last page and, of course, the final line of the play. Just do it. It’s arguably one of the most famous taglines and almost immediately recognizable as associated with Nike.
But today, as I pulled this ad out of my folder twenty years later, I thought those were wise words Nike instilled in our heads. And mighty fine inspiration for a new year.
If you’re interested in the history of this campaign, I found a post on a blog about marketing ethics that mentions the responsible creative agency and is a good testament to the lasting impact this single campaign has had.