Episode 373:

Do Your Honk

Bay Area Killer Iva Kroeger


The Inspiration Behind Nike's "Just Do It" Slogan, Murderer Gary Gilmore


Episode 373: Do Your Honk

This week, Karen tells the story of notorious Bay Area killer Iva Kroeger and Georgia covers the inspiration behind Nike's "Just Do It" slogan, murderer Gary Gilmore.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Notorious Bay Area killer Iva Kroeger

Bay Area Killer Iva Kroeger Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Kelsey Meurer on Unsplash 

Other Images:

1. Iva Kroeger wanted poster


"Iva Kroeger had an obsession with nursing. Her first arrest, in 1945, was for impersonating a nurse, and she often worked in nursing homes. Perhaps opposites attract. Nurses heal, Kroeger killed.

Kroeger first came to Santa Rosa detective John Coffman’s attention in December 1961, when he was asked to investigate the disappearance of a Santa Rosa motel owner named Mildred Arneson. Arneson was a nurse who had became a successful real estate investor. She lived with her husband, Jay, a retired Army Major, disabled with Parkinson’s disease.

A believer in spiritualism, Arneson had told her family she was going to South America with a fellow spiritualist named Iva Long. When Coffman went to the motel, he found that Long was now running it. Long confirmed that Arneson was somewhere in South America, but denied that she had ever planned to accompany Arneson on her trip. Long said she was taking care of Arneson’s husband until she returned.

Long claimed she was a psychic and astrologer and offered to foretell Coffman’s future if he gave her a lock of his hair. Although Long’s wild stories made Coffman suspicious, the deed transferring the motel to Ida Long appeared to be genuine, and the investigation stalled.

In February 1962, Jay Arneson disappeared. Long said he had been picked up by two Mexicans in a Cadillac and taken to a nursing home somewhere in Southern California.

The investigation picked up steam in May of that year, when Long pulled a gun on a repairman who was trying to collect an overdue bill. As police arrived, Long slipped into a cab and disappeared. Further investigation revealed that her real name was Iva Kroeger, and that she had a police record going back to 1945.

Kroeger had stolen $1,400 from a nursing home in San Jose in 1954, and had used aliases in various scams over the years. She was the master of the sob story: She faked a limp, told people she had cancer, claimed she was crippled in a streetcar accident, and said she was going blind. Kroeger once even received a purebred puppy after telling the dog’s owner it was for a crippled 7-year old orphan. Then she sold the puppy for $50.

Her stories were consistent in one respect: They were all lies..."

Source: “The Grandma from Hell” by Paul Drexler (San Francisco Examiner) 2015

The Inspiration Behind Nike's "Just Do It" Slogan, Murderer Gary Gilmore

The Inspiration Behind Nike's "Just Do It" Slogan, Murderer Gary Gilmore Notes:

Other Image:

1. Gary Gilmore mugshot (Alamy)


"Whether you view it as an inspirational rallying cry or a bullying command, the slogan ‘Just Do It’ is hard to avoid in modern life. Accompanied by the familiar Nike swoosh, it appears on bags, T-shirts and billboards all over the world. As a statement it sums up the sports brand: it is competitive, forceful, direct, as lean and powerful as the athletes that appear alongside it in Nike’s ads.

Considering how intrinsic to the brand it now seems, the slogan had inauspicious beginnings. It was created in 1987 by Wieden + Kennedy to accompany Nike’s first major television campaign, which included commercials for running, walking, cross-training, basketball and women’s fitness. “Each spot was developed by a different creative team and was markedly different from the others,” remembers Dan Wieden, founder of the agency and author of the Nike line. “In reviewing the work the night before the client presentation, I felt we needed a tagline to give some unity to the work, one that spoke to the hardest hardcore athletes as well as those talking up a morning walk.”

Wieden drew on a surprising source for inspiration. In Doug Pray’s 2009 documentary about advertising, Art & Copy, he confesses that the idea for the line was sparked by the last words of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, who said “Let’s do it!” to the firing squad before his execution. This may not be quite the brand heritage that Nike would ideally have chosen, yet at the time such matters were largely irrelevant, as nobody was convinced that the tagline was even necessary, let alone had any inkling of the impact it would have..."

Source: “02: Nike (1987) – Just Do It” (Creative Review)

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. “The most dangerous woman in San Francisco” by Katie Dowd (SF Gate) 2021
  2. “People v. Kroeger” March 31, 1964
  3. “Bizarre Story of a Double Murder” by Will Stevens (San Francisco Examiner) August 26, 1962
  4. “The Grandma from Hell” by Paul Drexler (San Francisco Examiner) 2015
  5. “Iva Tries to Escape FBI; Denies Murder Charges” by Buck Wilson (Oakland Tribune) September 11, 1962
  6. “’Sweet’ Iva Kroeger’s grim career” (The Press Democrat) February 22, 1987
  7. “Photo Gives Clue in Triple Mystery” (The Oakland Tribune) July 10, 1962
  8. “Seven Witnesses Point Finger at Iva Kroeger” by Boniface Saludes (The Press Democrat) January 23, 1963
  9. “Iva Kroeger Heckles Santa Rosa Witness” (The Press Democrat) January 23, 1963
  10. “Murder Motel” by Ruth Reynolds (Daily News) April 4, 1963

Georgia's Episode Sources

  1. “02: Nike (1987) – Just Do It” (Creative Review)
  2. “Candice Bergen” (Wikipedia)
  3. “Dan Wieden (Part 1): We started by ignoring the rules of advertising” (Design Indaba)
  4. “Execution by Firing Squad” (Wikipedia)
  5. “Gary Gilmore” (Wikipedia)
  6. “Gary Gilmore: American Murderer” by Robert Lewis (Encyclopedia Britannica)
  7. “Gary Gilmore gets his death wish – archive, 1977” by Christopher Reed (The Guardian)
  8. “Gary Gilmore - The Final Squalor” (The Washington Post)
  9. “How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem” by Max Nisen (Business Insider)
  10. “Just Do It” (Wikipedia)
  11. “Just do it! How murderer Gary Gilmore's final words demanding firing squad officers pull their triggers inspired Nike's famous slogan” by Harry Howard (The Daily Mail)
  12. “Just Do It: How the iconic Nike tagline built a career for the late Dan Wieden” by Manuela López Restrepo (NPR)
  13. “‘Just Do It’: The surprising and morbid origin story of Nike’s slogan” by Timothy Bella (Washington Post)
  14. “Just Say No” (Wikipedia)
  15. “Just Say No” by History.Com Editors (HISTORY)
  16. “Saturday Night Live: Season 2, Episode 10–Candice Bergen: December 11, 1976” (NBC)
  17. “SNL Transcripts: Candice Bergen: 12/11/76: Let’s Kill Gary Gilmore For Christmas” (SNL Transcripts Tonight: For Die Hard Saturday Night Live Fans)
  18. “Swoosh: Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There” by JB Strasser and Leslie Becklund (Harper Collins)
  19. “The Aerobics Craze of the 1980s” by Kelly Therese Pollock, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela (Unsung History Podcast)
  20. “The Brand Brief Behind Nike’s Just Do It Campaign” by Jerome Conlon (Branding Strategy Insider)
  21. “The new Colin Kaepernick campaign captures the tension between Nike’s values and its reality” by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela
  22. “The sinister story of Nike's 'Just Do It' slogan, which was inspired by the last words of a murderer before he was executed” by Bill Bostock (Business Insider)
  23. “The Story Behind Nike's 'Just Do It' Slogan” by Martin Kessler (WBUR)
  24. “THIS DAY IN HISTORY, January 17 - 1977: The execution of Gary Gilmore” (HISTORY)
  25. “Why Did Gary Gilmore Choose to Be Executed by Firing Squad?” by C.M. Frankie (A&E)
  26. “Year 1988 Fun Facts, Trivia, and History” by Gregory Devictor (Hobby Lark)