No Excuses. Just Do It.

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"Just Do It": one of the most heard of the most celebrated slogans in today's society. Instinctively we associate the slogan to the brand "Nike" almost instantaneously. One of the most standout commercial advertisements Nike released to the public was in 2007, where University of Wisconsin's Whitewater Wheelchair Basketball Player, Matt Scott, makes an appearance. The audience is immediately targeted as we hear common excuses thrown around in our daily lives. "I'm too weak. I'm slow. I'm too big. I ate too much for breakfast. I got a headache. It's raining. My dog is sick." Scott voices excuses for a full minute longer, until the clip concludes with the slamming of two basketballs against the shiny court ultimately revealing his prosthetic legs and wheelchair. As he pushes himself away, "Just Do It" and the accustomed Nike check sign appear on screen in a white bold color. Through the application and use of color combined with the three distinctive rhetorical devices of pathos, ethos, and logos, Nike instills a powerful urgency towards the audience to get fit and stop living a life full of excuses.     

            Excuses, excuses. It's what people do. It's human nature to want to avoid situations that seem difficult and unworthy of time; everyone has been there before. That's the reason why this advertisement sticks and speaks to people all around the world. Right as the commercial begins, a flicker goes off in viewer's brains to listen attentively because of the easy awareness to the subject of excuses and laziness. The commercial ensures to only allow Scott's upper half visible to the audience, while increasing the effectiveness and power of the video's sound by constant dribbling and swooshing of the basketball grasped between his fingertips. This tactic envelops and lays a sort of "surprise" effect for viewers at the advertisement's closure. That way, at the end viewers are shocked when they notice that the talented basketball player is one who does not have legs.

The urgent point that the "No Excuses" video is attempting to inform viewers upon is the fact that we cannot live life bases on excuses. It is impossible to make our goals and dreams a reality if we sit back and not take initiative. Life is about commitment, work, prosper, success, exertion, and pulling through even if a situation seems tough. The ultimate goal of the video is to just get you to move: to dive into life with a sense of motivation.

Color enhances the potency of the video incredibly. Scott is decked out a complete black ensemble.  Sporting a dark black Nike athletic shirt and sweatband across his forehead, the color emerges as a significant part of the video. Black is associated with power, strength, and authority. The color black is "mysterious evoking a sense of potential and possibility," which easily correlates with the persuasive message of the advertisement (squidoo).  

                        The first keen rhetorical device utilized in the text is pathos.  Pathos is described as "a quality, as of an experience or a work of art, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, or sorrow," (thefreedictionary). The essence of pathos is fully entailed after the inadequate excuses are spoken in the video, when the video comes to abrupt stop with the basketball player wheeling away in his wheelchair. Would you have ever guessed that this athletic man was in a wheelchair? Do you think that the device prevents him from shooting hoops and fulfilling his dreams? No. Matt Scott proves to lure our attention to the screen because of the emotion behind his words. He is furthest from a quitter and is attempting viewers to aspire to be like him. The appeal to the emotion is not exactly "sorrow", but it allows us to feel a sort of sympathy towards the "wheelchair" athlete who is moving around more then individuals who are capable of having legs and feet that can run, sprint, jump, hike.  

            In Jay Heinrichs Thank You for Arguing, Ethos is declared as the most sought over way of convincing your audience to agree with you. When the speaker is viewed as an individual capable of making smart and intelligent societal choices, the listeners will accordingly take the advice more to heart. Matt Scott is deemed as a man able of giving people what they want and need in terms of health and athletic advice due to the fact that he remains a part of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association's (NWBA) junior division. He has led his team to an undefeated season and two national championships, and claiming the title of MVP for the 2003 national tournament. What more could an audience full of humans who make excuses and lazy efforts to work out ask for? This man knows what he's talking about when it comes to working your body to it's potential. Because of Scott's credibility and ethical appeal, viewers are eager to listen and take Scott's words into account.

            Last but not least, logos is another strategy aimed at maneuvering the television/youtube crowd into happily absorbing themselves into the advertisement. Logos is simply the use of logic to win an argument. In the Nike Ad, Scott is reasoning with people across the world that they should live a life full of possibilities and choices rather than excuses. Why does it make sense to envelop a life where we cut ourselves short of our potential? It doesn't. By logically "arguing" to get fit, people will aspire to purchase Nike products and live a healthy lifestyle. The little Nike check at the end of the clip intelligently works to spike viewer's interest in signing up for that gym membership. The logic is: people want to live longer, people want to be in shape, people should want to feel and look our best.

So, here we are. It's the end of the creative Nike ad. You and me: we are sitting in these chairs at these desks and what do you think? Do you feel inspired and motivated? Do you feel like taking the next available free time you have and letting yourself enjoy the salty sweat and empowering endorphins at that next abs class?   I sure do. So why not go ahead and take your Nike sneakers or shorts or shirt or whatever else it may be to get you going and Just Do It.


Works Cited:


"Color: Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology." Squidoo : Welcome to Squidoo. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <>.


"Pathos - Definition of Pathos by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia." Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus - The Free Dictionary. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <>.

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As the writer, my biggest concern is:
Reader: Be sure to keep the guidelines for successful analysis sentences

1. Identify the writer's main claim about the rhetoric, ideology or and subtext of the piece.
You allude to the fact that Nike uses rhetoric to “urge” its viewers to get in shape and stop making excuses. You express these ideas by analyzing the pathos, ethos, logos, and color psychology.

2. Identify and comment on the writer's introduction of a context (rhetorical situation) for this piece of rhetoric (think of the Starbucks and Cheetos paper) Name one thing that might be added, deleted, changed, or moved.
This writer introduced the company, Nike and what it is all about. She also mentions a specific advertisement which focuses on lazy people who constantly make excuses. She touches on the point that Nike uses a wheel chair basketball player to appeal to the pathos of the audience. Great introduction but maybe elaborate on why we associate “Just Do It” with Nike in a rhetorical way.

3. Warning flags: check any of the following predominant themes this paper contains that might suggest a weak introduction or thesis:
Advertising is everywhere___ Ads try to persuade us___
Life really isn't like what the ad proclaims__ Ads have many components__
Ads are deceptive__ The ad did a great job__
The ad catches your eye__
Generally good in this area but still check over.

4. Find a strong analytical topic sentence and a weak
one. Explain why you have identified them as such.
Strong: “The urgent point that the "No Excuses" video is attempting to inform viewers upon is the fact that we cannot live life bases on excuses.”- This topic sentence is strong because the writer analyzes the rhetoric of “No Excuses” and how it affects the audience.
Weak: “The first keen rhetorical device utilized in the text is pathos.”- This sentence informs rather than analyzes. It is a statement that says pathos is represented first. You can improve this by stating why or how in pathos is used. For example, through…….. pathos is expressed, or something along that line. Just some food for thought.

5. Comment on the organization of the piece. What other possible arrangement strategies might make more of the material and develop arguments more fully? Great job! I feel you ordered each idea appropriately. For example, how you mentioned the use of color first to sword of ease into the essay. One thing I would suggest is maybe not to start out with the excuses paragraph. It looks like that would fit in somewhere else in the paper. You can start out with color or somehow incorporate the excuses into another paragraph.

6. You wanted to read more about.... how the repetition of excuses influences and appeals to the audience. I believe it’s a great argument but maybe try to expand on it a little more.

In the end I feel this was well written and a great topic. One thing I will say though is to watch out for your topic sentences, they seem informative rather than analytical. If you have any questions about my comments please feel free to ask.

This is a great ad to analyze, and I think you have a really promising thesis statement: "Trough the application and use of color combined with the three distinctive rhetorical devices of pathos, ethos, and logos, Nike instills a powerful urgency towards the audience to get fit and stop living a life full of excuses." When you get into the analysis itself, it feels like you are talking about the ad and don't quite have the structure in place yet to go into great detail about the ad itself. I am wondering if your organizing the paper along ethos, pathos, and logos is kind of messing you up. You seem to want to talk about commonplaces and Nike's previous campaigns as the main focus of the piece. How does this ad relate to the other Nike ads? How does it draw upon other common conventions in ads for sports apparel? How do the actions of the central figure belie what he is saying?

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