December 14, 2004
Don't mess with Texas merchandising

"Don't Mess With Texas": It's not just a great anti-littering slogan, it's a potential cash cow for the state.

Without enough lawyers to pursue all the dealers of unauthorized "Don't Mess With Texas" gear, the state transportation agency will announce today that it has entered a licensing agreement to sell the authentic, trademarked version.

T-shirts, mugs and hats featuring the popular catchphrase are already being offered on the litter campaign's Web site. Under an agreement, Direct Mark of San Marcos produces and sells the merchandise, and the state agency recoups 8 percent of gross sales for the tidy roads campaign.

The merchandise likely will be found soon on store shelves, too.

I'd buy a "Don't Mess With Texas" T-shirt. I bet I'm not alone, either. Wonder what took them so long to try this?

"Don't Mess with Texas" was created by an Austin advertising firm in 1986 and made its television premiere during the Jan. 1, 1987, Cotton Bowl game. The campaign gained attention with high-profile Texans such as country singer Willie Nelson and boxer George Foreman delivering no-nonsense warnings to litterbugs.

As the slogan grew popular, appearing on everything from breath-mint tins and refrigerator magnets to T-shirts, the Transportation Department decided in October 2000 to register it as a trademark.

It recently stepped up enforcement to protect it.

Over the last year and a half, about 30 cease-and-desist letters have gone out to merchandisers, but no lawsuits have been filed.

I wrote about the history of this campaign previously. Do check out the sound clips, some of them are really snappy. And though they're not yet available in stores, you can get your official Don't Mess With Texas merchandise right here. I don't know about you, but I feel better knowing that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 14, 2004 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

One of my coworkers put a Don't Mess With Texas! bumper sticker in my cube. I'm very pleased with it.

Posted by: Michael on December 14, 2004 10:08 AM

Having lived outside of Texas now for 7 years, I never get tired of having to explain to people that the "Don't Mess With Texas" slogan is really an anti-littering campaign.

The conversation usually goes something like this:
Non-Texan: "You grew up in Texas"
Texan: "Yep, born and raised"
Non-Texan: "Everything's bigger in Texas"
Texan: "That's what they tell me"
Non-Texan: "Texas is pretty big, hot, and dry isn't it?"
Texan: "Umm, yes and no." [Having grown up near Houston, dry doesn't actually some up the unbearable wetness of the air in 90+ degree weather]
Non-Texan: "Texas doesn't have any rivers does it?"
Texan: "Umm, actually yes ... many. Texas is pretty diverse, with seven distinct ecological regions ranging from the somewhat swampy and pine forested East to the dry and arid west"
Non-Texan: "What's with that 'Don't mess with Texas' thing? Texans think a lot of themselves don't they?"
Texan: "Ummm, actually it is an anti-littering campaign"
Non-Texan: "Oh" [as they walk away with a puzzled look on their face]

Posted by: Seadogs on December 15, 2004 6:47 AM

They're giving away goodybags for free there.

Cheap prizes for the dead pool. eh.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on December 15, 2004 3:21 PM

Voluntary Environmental Laws

Did Mess with Texas.

Messed with Texas Water

Messed with Texas Air

Messed with Texas Land

Messed with Texas.

The Slogan is Cover

When What You Say Beats What You Do.

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on April 12, 2006 11:38 PM