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January 05, 2011

Don't Mess With Texas ads: What's your favorite?

George_Strait_frame A quarter-century ago, the Texas Department of Transportation launched its now famous "Don't Mess With Texas" campaign to reduce littering. That phrase is now universally understood, not only in references to trash, but any circumstance of accomplishment or bravado involving someone from the Lone Star State.

  • Longhorns win the college football championship? Don't Mess With Texas.Longhornhelmet
  • Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan slugs it out with a White Sox player who foolishly charges the mound? Don't Mess With Texas.Nolan

You get the idea.

Anyway, what started as a simple campaign became a huge part of pop culture. It "went viral" -- to borrow a phrase from the Internet age -- before viral was cool.

The transportation department is celebrating its 25th anniversary by asking you which Don't Mess With Texas campaign advertisement you liked best.

Here's a link to dontmesswithtexas.org, where you can watch the videos and cast your vote.

My personal favorite is the very first one -- a 1986 piece featuring the late, great guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. But don't let my opinion color your own preferences. There are tons of memorable ads by artists such as Willie Nelson, Little Joe y La Familia, LeAnn Rimes and (probably my second fave) the Cowboy Poet.

Update: Just watched a bunch more of 'em, and another of my all-time favorites is the one with Dallas Cowboys greats Too Tall Jones and Randy White. That's a classic!

 -- Gordon.


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Alberto Knox

People that throw trash in the street are uncouth bums, but this ad campaign is taken to heart by the mouth-breathers that think nothing of pitching a butt out the window. To them it speaks of macho, in-your-face bravado. It is an embarrassment, used around the country to mock us, and rightly so.


I was born and raised in Texas and always thought it was the greatest. Then I began traveling to other states! Unfortunately Texas does not measure up. Now when I travel I notice all the trash people throw out and things people allow to blow away. Paper, plastic grocery bags, bottles, cans, cigarette butts and packages, tire bits along the highway and used baby diapers! I have traveled from Texas to the east coast and the west coast and I do not see this problem in other states. Why do we do this to our state? We pay a huge amount of money for the ads, and have done this for several years, but I don't see any improvement. If other states can stop the trashing why can't Texas do the same. I have even seen whole bags of household trash along some rural roads instead of being disposed of properly.

It really makes me sad to look at the roadside of our state and see all the trash.


It is just a Campaign because I see so much trash thrown out on the side of the road. People will dump there garage, furniture, or whatever else and not have a conviction about it. It is a sad, sad thing. Again it is like any other Campaign, lots of talk, money, and dreams but no backbone. Love Texas hate lies.


Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88's is my favorite and has been from the very beginning.

No don't you litter, litter
No don't you litter, litter
No don't you litter litter

It's mighty reckless to mess with Texas.

Kerry VAughn

Im frm Austin born and raised I knew stevie ray vaughn and Willie and a whole lot of stars my fav was stevie god rest his soul we miss u and think of him every august god bless my home twn and texas I'm in Houston going home some day I luv. U Austin texas

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