CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs - Texas PR plan not messing around

In April 1998, EnviroMedia won the "Don't Mess with Texas

account.

"We went after the business mainly for the experience of a big pitch, but put everything we had into it and won,

explains agency principal Valerie Davis. She adds that when pitching the Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT) to win the account, she brought to the pitch actual trash staffers had picked up on EnviroMedia's adopted stretch of highway.

The slogan, created for the TDOT by ad agency GSD&M in 1985, had a 96% awareness level when EnviroMedia won the account, but too many Texans thought it referred to tourism, not trash.

Strategy

The agency's goal became to raise awareness of the most significant types of litter on Texas highways. Market research indicated that the state's litterers were no longer the campaign's previous target of pickup-truck-driving males age 18-34. Instead, both males and females under age 24 were responsible for most of the litter on Texas roadsides. The study also showed that while 96% of Texans were aware of "Don't Mess with Texas,

one in three said he or she continued to litter.

Tactics

Before EnviroMedia landed the account, the slogan's main PR tactics were television and radio PSAs. To boost slogan understanding and move the target audience to the younger litterers identified by the market research, the firm launched dontmesswithtexas. org. It also rebranded the annual public awareness event "'Don't Mess with Texas' Trash-Off," created a youth outreach video and curriculum for high school students known as "Messin' With Texas,

boosted Adopt-a-Highway marketing initiatives, and refreshed the program's logo.

A promotional campaign called "Vote Don't Mess with Texas

allowed Texans to choose their favorite among 50 TV and radio PSAs that had been produced over the years for the campaign. To drive traffic to the new website, ballots were accepted online.

Also, because 20% of litter is fast-food wrapping, Enviro-Media recruited Sonic and Dairy Queen as some of the first "Don't Mess with Texas

partners.

Litter-prevention messages were placed on store windows, cups, and bags.

Bumper stickers and litterbags were handed out at drive-throughs, and partners tagged their existing TV commercials with the "Don't Mess with Texas

message.

Results

EnviroMedia's first significant work for "Don't Mess with Texas

was at the press conference in which the agency announced the "Vote Don't Mess with Texas

campaign, along with its market research findings. The news was covered in two separate AP wire stories for two days, TV and newspaper stories across Texas, and in USA Today. Two months later, the agency again generated statewide and national coverage when it announced that Willie Nelson's TV spot, "Mamas, tell all your babies Don't Mess with Texas,

was voted the favorite PSA.

Since 1995, Texas roadside litter has dropped 52%, and cigarette-butt litter has dropped 70%. The percentage of Texans who know what "Don't Mess with Texas

means has increased from 62% to 75%, and EnviroMedia's coverage to date includes 2.5 million impressions in papers such as The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, and Fort Worth-Star Telegram.

Future

Just last month, the agency launched a television campaign aimed at the younger target audience it now calls "Gen L

- males and females under age 24, or "Generation Litterer.

It has also added a new slogan: "If Your Mother Were Texas, Would You Still Litter?"

EnviroMedia continues as the TDOT's agency of record for the "Don't Mess with Texas' campaign.

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