Lost In Translation, But Powerful As Hell: “Don’t Mess With Texas”

“Don’t Mess With Texas” may come across as typical Texas bravado, but it was coined in 1985 as the slogan for a statewide anti-littering campaign.

Prior to that, it did not exist.

Via Wikipedia:

“At the time the state of Texas spent about $20 million annually to clean litter from highways. McClure[from ad agency GSD&M] said that “bubbas in pickup trucks” who regularly littered beer cans and other items out of vehicle windows and ordinary Texans who believed that littering was a “God-given right” were targets of the advertising campaign.

“McClure said It occurred to me that the only time I’d heard the word litter was in reference to dogs. Mess seemed like it would resonate better.”

“Don’t Mess with Texas” was embraced by Texans immediately and went viral – because it works on two levels. It works descriptively as an anti-littering message AND as a much bigger idea tapping into the Texas zeitgeist of swagger. The slogan became a rallying cry of state pride.

The campaign is credited with reducing litter in Texas by 72%.

High-powered slogans, taglines & company / product names are easily identifiable: They Always Work On More Than One Level!

“Don’t Mess with Texas” has grown from a scold to litterbugs to the motto of the USS Texas submarine: