The Texas Department of Transportation launched the semi-iconic advertisements 25 years ago this month. Wow, I thought the ads had been around a lot longer. The first aired during the Cotton Bowl game broadcast in 1986 back when the Cotton Bowl game was played at the Cotton Bowl.
During the years, the TV spots have featured Willie Nelson, of course, Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Randy “Manster” White, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, George Strait, Lance Armstrong, and Stevie Ray Vaughn, who was in the very first ad in the campaign produced to decrease roadside litter.
Don’t Mess with Texas also took the top spot in an all-time best slogan contest — beating out Got Milk?, Just Do It, and Have It Your Way — conducted in 2006 by Advertising Week.
Now, TxDOT wants to know your favorite Don’t Mess with Texas spot. Online voting runs through Feb. 22, if I’m following along correctly in the release. The voting schedule and associated tournament are kind of convoluted, so here’s TxDOT’s explanation:
“After two weeks of voting, half of the TV spots will be eliminated based on number of votes. One week later, the field will narrow to eight. That’s when matchups are no longer random, and the voters’ chosen Don’t Mess with Texas ads will compete in a tournament-style bracket. On February 8, 2011, the Celebrity Face-Off finalists will go head-to-head for two weeks of voting, after which the all-time, best-loved Don’t Mess with Texas TV spot will be named favorite. Voters’ favorite ad will air on TV all year as the Texas Department of Transportation celebrates its 25th anniversary.”
Got it? Good. Now, go vote. And don’t freakin’ litter.
Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times, an online community news outlet serving the White Rock Lake area. He and Stevie Ray Vaughn were Kiest Park contemporaries back in the day before one of them became famous.