By Marianne Wathne Johansen
I was a really fat baby. In fact, I was so fat that when I was born I had to be pulled out, resulting in the midwife ripping my 5 main nerves off. I ended up with a diagnosis called Erb’s palsy. And wow, text edit tried to autocorrect it to Erb’s party! I can assure you, it wasn’t a party, or anything like it. My arm was paralyzed for a while, but after 3 surgeries and a lot of training, I can move it very slowly. It’s also smaller than my left hand. Long story short: I’m disabled. But don’t get me wrong – this isn’t me complaining.
Fast-forward approximately 20 years and I’m writing my dissertation on Advertising and PR in London. Having no idea what to write about, I buried myself in books, websites, D&AD annuals and magazines. I started writing about celebrities in advertising, but that wasn’t really my thing. Then I stumbled over something interesting – a commercial for Nike called “No excuses”. So, when I was halfway through the dissertation word count and way too close to the deadline, I changed my subject.
The commercial shows a man in a basketball court dishing out one bad excuse after another while playing basketball. All of them are excuses for not working out. He goes on for one minute before the camera zooms out and you can see that he’s in a wheelchair. It ends with him saying «And my feet hurt», followed by the tagline “Just do it”. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obdd31Q9PqA Powerful, right? It was to me. It made me think. After all, I’m not that disabled; I can walk, talk, think, write and I have a great life. And still, people like me, and even people more “able-bodied” than me keep making excuses for sitting on their arse all day!
Even though I was studying advertising at the time, this is the one ad that made me want to CREATE ads. It obviously hits right home because I’m disabled, and I’ve made those excuses myself. I’m sure a lot of you have done as well, and that’s why it’s so good – because so many people can relate to it! To me, this is great creative work. Not only does it sell the brand, but it sells an attitude as well. Personally, I think it’s brilliant, but then again, advertising is very subjective.
If that message doesn’t inspire you just a little bit, I want to hear what does!