Austinites craft anti-litter campaign for Tenn. with Bones, Orakpo

By Gary DingesAmerican-Statesman Staff

Litter's Bad, No Bones About It.
Radio host Bobby Bones is among those featured in the Nobody Trashes Tennessee ads.

“Nobody Trashes Tennessee.”

That’s the new anti-littering message from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, crafted right here in Austin by local ad agency EnviroMedia.

Recently rolled out across Tennessee, the campaign includes a variety of ads featuring former Austin radio host Bobby Bones, whose nationally syndicated show is now based in Nashville; ex-University of Texas football standout Brian Orakpo, who currently plays for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans; and singer-songwriter Cassadee Pope, a one-time contestant on NBC’s hit show “The Voice.”

There’s even a mascot, Trashsquatch, who has been busy visiting schools to spread the word that littering is decidedly uncool.

Today, the Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates there are more than 100 million pieces of trash littering the state’s highways.

If the new ads remind anyone of the beloved “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign, there’s a good reason for that, Enviromedia CEO and co-founder Valerie Salinas-Davis said. EnviroMedia worked with the Texas Department of Transportation on “Don’t Mess with Texas” for more than a decade.

“Serving as stewards of the ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ campaign was a great privilege and is a big part of our agency’s heritage,” Salinas-Davis said. “Winning that piece of business as a four-person shop in 1998 helped put EnviroMedia on the map, and we loved working with Texas celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and George Strait.

“Two years ago, the Tennessee Department of Transportation decided they needed to take on the $15 million in highway litter pickup costs, and hired EnviroMedia to create a statewide litter prevention campaign of the caliber of ‘Don’t Mess with Texas.’”

“Nobody Trashes Tennessee,” online at NobodyTrashesTennessee.com, is the result of a year’s worth of research by the EnviroMedia team, Salinas-Davis said. Some of the findings that helped shape the campaign were a surprise not only to EnviroMedia, but also to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“The ‘Nobody Trashes Tennessee’ brand and campaign are based on EnviroMedia’s research that showed Tennesseans age 18 to 34 litter the most, with a slight skew to women,” Salinas-Davis said. “This was a big surprise, as we conducted similar research for ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ for 14 years and never found a skew to gender.”

To help reach that younger demographic, EnviroMedia tapped an assortment of celebrities with ties to the state, combining their words with imagery of Tennessee’s breathtaking scenery.

“Bobby Bones, Cassadee Pope, Brian Orakpo and Valerie June – who we launched with last year – are all breakout stars in their respective fields and each displays the passion and energy we are looking for in this campaign,” said EnviroMedia creative director Michael Freberg.

Bones, whose show is still heard in Austin on radio station 100.7 KASE-FM, was quick to jump at the opportunity to be a part of the campaign. His “Litter’s bad. No Bones about it” billboards can be spotted along highways, in airports and elsewhere across Tennessee.

“Tennessee is my home and a beautiful state I’ve grown to love,” Bones said. “I want to do what I can to help keep it clean and free from trash and litter. Each one of us can make a difference where we are to help make the world a cleaner and better place.

“I’m a big believer that little things make a big difference. Throwing one can out the window might not seem like a huge deal, but if everyone thinks that way, that turns into billions of cans a day. We all have to do our part and realize small choices can have a huge impact.”

Pope said she likes how the campaign plays off the immense pride Tennesseans have for their state.

“I think this message captures that perfectly,” she said. “We love our state and we want it to be treated fairly. It’s our home… who wants trash laying all over it?

“The action of you littering pollutes the Earth. You might not experience it right then and there but you’re contributing to a much bigger and scarier problem. Be the solution and find a trash can.”