‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ Targets Younger Offenders

A sweeping, panoramic view of a Texas prairie expands to include an attractive young lady … whose boyfriend empties an ashtray on her head.

“If your girlfriend were Texas, would you still litter?” asks the tagline.

The television spot is one of four new ads in the Texas Departmentof Transportation’s long-running “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign.

Tuerff-Davis EnviroMedia has revamped the well-known series, which for 15 years has relied on celebrities to deliver the “Don’t mess with Texas” message.

“New research revealed that today’s litterer is no longer ‘Bubba,’ a truck-driving, 18- to 34-year-old male. It’s Texans under 24,” said agency principal Valerie Davis. “We knew when we identified that new target that the campaign had to change radically.”

Switching from the former tough-guy tack, the new work demonstrates “uncool” behavior, such as dumping soft drinks and leftover fast food on family members.

The paid media budget is $1 mil-lion; an additional $1 million is expected in donated air time for the PSA effort. “It helps stretch the limit of state dollars when you have brand recognition like ‘Don’t mess with Texas,’ ” Davis said.

The TV campaign, which began in late January, will continue its rotation in six major Texas markets. In March, an outdoor component will be added to the mix.

EnviroMedia has held the state department’s anti-littering business since 1998. The Austin, Texas, agency marks its five-year anniversary this month, having developed a specialty of handling environmental and public health accounts.

“That niche has never limited our growth at all,” said Davis. “You pick up a newspaper on any given day and you’re going to see something on the environment or public health.”

Most recently, EnviroMedia added the $1 million-plus account of Dallas Water Utilities. The shop will promote a new water conservation ordinance that takes effect this year. Following a review, EnviroMedia’s selection by the utility’s board was approved by the Dallas City Council on Jan. 9.