AUSTIN (AP) – Texas’ anti-litter slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas” won a national advertising contest, beating other famous phrases like “Got Milk?” and “Just Do It.”

The Texas Department of Transportation’s litter prevention slogan won Advertising Week’s 2006 Walk of Fame contest in New York, officials announced Friday. It received more than 400,000 online votes.

“We knew we had a great slogan, and we knew we could generate the support of thousands of Texans,” said Doris Howdeshell, travel division director for the Texas transportation department. “We just never thought we’d win by such a high margin against such high profile competition.”

A marketing campaign designed to promote “Don’t Mess With Texas” coincided with the slogan’s 20th anniversary. Several companies were recruited to encourage their employees to vote. Voting went from June 20 until midnight Thursday.

Advertising Week is North America’s largest annual gathering of advertising and media industry leaders. State transportation officials traveled to New York for the victory celebration. The slogan will receive permanent recognition in the Advertising Icon Museum in Kansas City, opening in 2008.

Last year’s winner was the General Electrics slogan, “Imagination at Work.” The “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign began in 1986 to combat roadside litter and its pickup costs.

The slogan was created by Austin-based GSD&M advertising agency, which handled the state transportation agency’s account until 1998. Austin-based Tuerff-Davis EnviroMedia Inc. has worked with the state agency since then.

The original “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign began with blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan during the 1986 Cotton Bowl. In its first year, litter on Texas roads was reduced by 29 percent.

Matthew McConaughey, Owen Wilson, Lee Ann Womack, Lance Armstrong and Jennifer Love Hewitt were some of the Texas celebrities who helped celebrate the slogan’s 20th anniversary in television ads this year.

Tim McClure, one of four founders of GSD&M and creator of the slogan, joined another founder of the ad agency, Roy Spence, and compiled the stories behind the saying in a book released in early September.


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