Famous TX litter effort to embark on highway tour

AUSTIN: The venerable "Don't Mess with Texas" campaign this summer is hitting the highways it endeavors to keep clean in a 25-city road trip.

AUSTIN: The venerable "Don't Mess with Texas" campaign this summer is hitting the highways it endeavors to keep clean in a 25-city road trip.

"This is the first event of this scale we've ever attempted," said Darah Waldrip, litter-prevention program coordinator for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Plans for the road show began last summer with research targeting what ad and PR agency Tuerff-Davis EnviroMedia calls "Gen L" (Generation Litter). The 16- to 24-year-olds represent a second generation of trash-tossing Texans too young to appreciate the campaign's appealing 1980s music ads.

EnviroMedia enlisted Los Angeles' Look-Look youth-culture research service to help identify the two-dozen members of its "Ground Support" panel. "They review everything we do," said agency principal Valerie Davis. The group stays informed via weblog, and members will help host tour stops in their towns.

Ground Support identified the need for one-on-one interaction to communicate the antilitter message, and unanimously favored distributing auto garbage bags. "It's sort of like sampling, 'not littering,'" Davis explained.

Young people apparently responded strongly to statistics, so the tour truck designed by Boston's Alloy Marketing and Promotions is plastered with them. "If we tell them it cost the state $32 million to pick up litter, that hits home," Davis added.

The tour began Saturday at a marina on Austin's Lake Travis, and will include a Labor Day weekend event at the Schlitterbahn water park on South Padre Island. Activities will include trash basketball and trivia games, with prizes provided by sponsors Dairy Queen, La Quinta, Southwest Airlines, and HEB grocery stores.

A concurrent PSA/ad campaign plays on Texas pride, and features Houston comic Tommy Drake asking unsuspecting folks to dump trash on their loved ones.

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