You need to see these ingenious Nike ads

Nike ad depicting sneakers that look like lungs
(Image credit: Nike)

For several decades Nike has been the champion of sportswear, renowned for its iconic logo and punchy slogan. Created in 1964, the company has come a long way since its conception – and its ads keep getting bigger and better.

Nike's inspiring advertisements are filled with design ingenuity – and while not every ad hits the ground running, there's no denying that the brand a master of memorable marketing. This week, Twitter user The Ad Professor compiled a list of some of the very best Nike ads from over the years – here are four of our favourites.

01. Air Max 3D Billboard

A large billboard featuring a 3D red and white Nike air max shoe

(Image credit: Nike)

In celebration of the 35th anniversary of the iconic Air Max shoe, Nike Japan released an ad campaign of epic proportions, taking 'larger than life' to the extreme. As part of the brand's official Air Max Day (March 26th, for any of you sneakerheads), Nike  projected its first ever 3D billboard outside the famous Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.

A collaboration between Nike Tokyo's in house team and creative collective CEKAI, the ad features a large Nike shoebox floating above the street. Several unique Air Max designs are displayed to passersby until the floating box is returned back to the confines of the billboard with a helping paw from the famous Shinjuku calico cat.  

Since then there have been numerous 3D billboards projected all across the world, with the most recent appearance in Hangzhou, China being equally as impressive in both size and style. 

02. They Keep You Alive

An advertisement depicting a pair of Nike trainers in the formation of a set of lungs

(Image credit: Anton Burmistrov)

Created by Anton Burmistrov, this striking poster is a masterclass in elegant, minimalist design. Another celebration of the iconic Air Max sneaker, Burmistrov's creation is simplistic, effective, and really packs a punch, playing on the imagery of the lungs. In his own words, "the essence of the shoe was its lightness", and the lungs, a symbol of breathing, are essential for keeping you alive. 

To some consumers, a sneaker is much more than an object. It's a symbol, Burmistov says, of self expression and identity, an item that's as "vital to you, as air is to your lungs". Burmistov has expertly captured the essence of the Nike fandom with his design, showing us that sometimes simplicity is the best foot forward. 

03. Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

A large white Nike billboard featuring the phrase "yesterday you said tomorrow" in larger black font

(Image credit: Nike)

This bold billboard from Wieden+Kennedy is an assertive ad that gets straight to the point. A standout piece of striking but subdued marketing, the looming billboard has a strong tone that's in keeping with their iconic slogan "just do it". The motivational message urges consumers to seize the day and cut ties with the ever tempting pit of procrastination. 

This 2008 ad was released in the US, overlooking the bustling streets of New York and captures the essence of the fast paced city that never sleeps. This traffic stopping billboard is the very definition of less is more and we love the powerful impact from this minimalistic design. 

04. Just Do It

Black background with the words "Just do it" in bold white font

(Image credit: Nike)

Nike's very first TV Advertisement, the "just do it" slogan was an instant hit with audiences. Created by the late Dan Wieden of the design titan Wieden+Kennedy, the iconic trademark has become the brands most notable identifier, along with the iconic Nike swoosh logo. 

Did you know this famous phrase has darker origins than you'd expect? In the 2009 documentary, Art & Copy, Weiden states that the inspiration for the catchphrase came from the last words of convicted killer Gary Gilmore, with Nike originally hesitant to include the tagline in its advert. It's a good job that they ran with it, because It just goes to show that you can find inspiration everywhere.

Whilst Nike has proven it can shoot for success in its ad campaigns, sometimes its designs can be a little... offside. Looking for more inspiration? Check out these clever ads with missing products

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Natalie Fear
Staff Writer

Natalie is Creative Bloq's staff writer. With an eye for trending topics and a passion for internet culture, she brings you the latest in art and design news. A recent English Literature graduate, Natalie enjoys covering the lighter side of the news and brings a fresh and fun take to her articles. Outside of work (if she’s not glued to her phone), she loves all things music and enjoys singing sweet folky tunes.