Inspired by true Texas pride, we go to great lengths to keep our state litter-free with award-winning ads, statewide road tours, education programs, and contests.

Don’t mess with Texas has been a great success thanks to our iconic red, white and blue trash cans and the help of fellow Texans who have spread the word about keeping our highways litter-free. From the first TV ad featuring blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan to classic spots headlined by Willie Nelson, Lyle LovettLeAnn RimesKevin Fowler and Jack Ingram, Texans have been reminded what Don’t mess with Texas really means. With the 2020 addition of Oscar winner and Minister of Culture/M.O.C. Matthew McConaughey and country music legend George Strait, the message continues to resonate across the state.

Whether the message appears on a billboard, your TV, or computer screen, we’re proud of our advertising. Not only has it successfully captured the Texan spirit and garnered exposure for the campaign, it’s also helped keep tons of litter off Texas roads. But with half of us STILL tossing trash, there’s still plenty more to do. And you can bet Don’t mess with Texas will be there, litter bags and all.


2020: The campaign turns 35 years old and calls on the help of some celebrity friends to remind fellow Texans that the only safe way to dispose of used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID 19 pandemic is in a trash can. Oscar winner and Minister of Culture/M.O.C. Matthew McConaughey and country music legend George Strait lend their voices to new video public service announcements (PSA) that urge Texans to clean up their act, including proper disposal of used PPE. The PSAs aired on TV networks, cable channels and digital platforms. Other Texas celebrities who joined McConaughey and Strait in raising awareness about the issue included Mark Cuban, Eva Longoria, Marsai Martin, Ally Brooke and Brittany Broski. Each used their social media channels to share a personal video message reminding followers that Don’t mess with Texas means don’t litter.     

2017: The Don’t mess with Texas® Virtual Reality Experience debuts, utilizing technology and gamification at a variety of events statewide to share the brand’s anti-littering message in a new, immersive way.

2016: The campaign celebrates its 30th anniversary, and with it comes a series of new celebrity appearances. Don’t mess with Texas airs TV commercials featuring Heisman winner Earl Campbell, Grammy-award winners Eli Young Band and Grupo Fantasma, and Lukas Nelson, son of Texas country music legend Willie Nelson. Texas born-and-raised celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Kelly Clarkson, Meat Loaf, and Sean P. Flanery join the campaign by sharing celebrity selfies on social media.

2015: Willie Nelson returns to the campaign with his 1968 rendition of “Beautiful Texas”. He appears alongside celebrities taking selfies for the TV and digital video campaign, Small Trash Makes a Big Mess.

2014: Grammy-winning Tejano performer Sunny Sauceda and country favorites Kevin Fowler and Jack Ingram join the campaign.

2013: Don’t mess with Texas reinvigorates the brand by returning to the original logo and reintroducing the iconic red, white, and blue trashcans as a memorable and recognizable symbol of the campaign highlighted by Texas musicians Bob Schneider and Grupo Fantasma. Social media profiles in FacebookTwitter, and Instagram become an integral part of the campaign.

2011: Don’t mess with Texas celebrates its 25th anniversary with a feature article, “Litter Did We Know,” an article in Texas Monthly about its remarkable success. Don’t mess with Texas also hosts a competition that asks viewers to pick their favorite TV commercial from the campaign’s 25 years. Congratulations to the Confederate Air Force for coming out on top, garnering 600,000 votes!

2010: Research shows that 82 percent of Texans now understand that Don’t mess with Texas means “don’t litter”. King of Country George Strait stars in the campaign’s TV and radio commercials.

2009: Don’t mess with Texas launches new campaigns, including an online reality series of WEbisodes, an online video contest called Car2Can, and a first-ever Litter Force Contest.

2008: “Top Design” host Todd Oldham designs free Don’t mess with Texas litterbags.

2007: The Litter Force blasts into 45 elementary schools, educating students in order to prevent littering behavior. Research suggests that children who have seen their parents litter are more likely to do the same.

2006: Don’t mess with Texas wins the Advertising Walk of Fame contest for America’s favorite slogan, beating well-known campaigns like “Just Do It” and “Got Milk?” by a 400,000-vote landslide. The campaign returns to the Cotton Bowl to launch 20th-anniversary TV commercials featuring an array of well-known Texans.

2005: The Litter Force superheroes are born! With the goal of creating a litter-free generation, Litter Force tours elementary schools to educate first graders how to “Blast the Trash!”. Research shows that litter has dropped 33 percent since 2001, and 71 percent of Texans understand Don’t mess with Texas means “don’t litter”.

2004: TV and radio spots titled “Excuses” prove that there’s no good excuse for litter, and even Jon Stewart and The Daily Show notice the campaign.

2003: The campaign goes 3-D with eye-popping “It’s Take-Out, Not Toss-Out” billboards, calling out the fast-food litter problem with larger-than-life soda cups and curly fries. The first Don’t mess with Texas Road Tour travels 5,000 miles around the state to educate Texans about litter prevention.

2002: The “Road Karma” PSA makes its debut.

2001: Research reveals that roadside litter has dropped 52 percent since 1995, as new TV ads personify Texas with the question “If your mother were Texas, would you still litter?”

2000: Screen hero Matthew McConaughey looks for litterers in new TV ad.

1999: The first tobacco litter PSA, featuring “Jimmy the Butt Collector,” airs.

1998: Texas sweetheart LeAnn Rimes stars in an ad singing her hit song “Blue” as new research declares that 16–24 year olds are Gen L: Generation Litterer. A full 96 percent of Texans have heard of Don’t mess with Texas”, but only 61 percent know it means “don’t litter”.

1996: Longhorns and talking armadillos discuss the litter problem in Texas. The TV ad is later used by The University of Texas to promote the Longhorns’ Don’t Litter campaign.

1995: Austin singer/songwriter Ian Moore blasts trash with his electric guitar beams.

1994Cowboys recite poems about the beauty of Texas and how litter ruins the picture.

1993: The PSA “Basuritas” shows how little pieces of litter add up to a big mess.

1992The Tyler Longriders call out litterers as animals, and “Creature from the Texas Coast” airs to educate viewers about litter on our coastline.

1991: Several new commercials air, featuring the Confederate Air Force (now the Commemorative Air Force) and George Foreman.

1990Lyle Lovett sings “Keep your trash off the road” and The Texas Tornadoes sing “What were you thinking when you were messing with Texas?” in two popular commercials.

1989Willie Nelson stars in the campaign classic “Mamas, tell your babies ‘Don’t mess with Texas’”.

1988Jerry Jeff Walker warns about litter flying from truck beds, and the first Spanish PSA features an animated Shamu and his Texas Tuxedo penguin sidekicks.

1987: Heavyweight Mike Williams and the stars of comedy theater company Greater Tuna warn folks not to mess with Texas.

1986: The first ever Don’t mess with Texas TV ad debuts during the Cotton Bowl, featuring legendary Texan and blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.

1985: Don’t mess with Texas is born, sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).