Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)

Nobody Trashes Tennessee Campaign

At any given time, there are more than 88 million pieces of litter on Tennessee roadways. This litter impacts public safety and environmental quality. TDOT spends more than $23 million a year on cleanup efforts and public education, part of which funds the Nobody Trashes Tennessee campaign.

Faced with the goal of raising awareness about litter for an entire state on a small budget, we sought to create a self-sustaining movement by targeting environmentally conscious and volunteeristic personas and execute the early adopter approach. The below graphic demonstrates how we plan to create a movement using a funnel strategy in which specific tactics are used to drive actions for each level of audience engagement. To generate the audience connection, we decided to let the trash talk for itself and draw them in through entertainment.

(See high resolution image here)

The campaign revolves around the story of Red Plastic Cup, aka RPC, and his mission to end littering in Tennessee and win an Emmy. His first attempt at fame was Talking Trash: The Show and now he set out to make Talking Trash: The Movie along with his squad of trashy friends. Tennesseans are entertained by the Making the Movie behind-the-scenes episodes while also being educated through Litter Lesson videos that relate to each character and episode. As the audience moves into consideration and conversion stages they are retargeted with educational messaging to increase the probability of converting and Adopt-A-highway and Litter Hotline messaging to generate conversions. The campaign as a whole educates Tennesseans on the scope of the problem and provides resources such as blog posts and an event calendar to bring forth opportunities for residents to take both personal and community actions to help prevent and reduce litter.




The campaign integrates Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media elements into a powerful and effective approach. In the first year, the campaign generated 185 million paid media impressions, acquired 275 pieces of earned media coverage and 2.7 million coverage views, achieved over 56,000 social engagements with over 50 engagements per post on average, and driven 245,000 unique pageviews to the website along with over 648,000 defined and tracked website actions.

FY-22 ResultsFY-23 YTD Results
(July ’22-Jan ’23.)
EPieces of Coverage275210
Coverage Views2.7M8.81M
SSocial Engagements56.78k771.4K
OPage Views245.16k190.2k

Campaign Goals

  1. Raise awareness about Tennessee’s litter problem by delivering constant messaging educating Tennesseans about the impacts and consequences of littering through targeted Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media campaigns.
  2. Amplify the campaign by identifying and engaging with like-minded organizations who are working to affect littering in Tennessee.
  3. Drive behavior change and actions that will eliminate litter from roadways.
  4. Create a self-sustaining movement that leverages state pride.

Campaign Highlights

  • It is unique and quirky and will draw awareness to the campaign by educating through entertainment
  • Featuring the trash allows us to show the problem, which aids in recall
  • Educational content is engaging and shareable, expanding our reach
  • The cast of characters is infinitely expandable, allowing us to highlight new litter items as they become a problem
  • All paid media campaign tactics are optimized through our in-house Agency Trading Desk, which allows us to eliminate third-party fees and bid on digital media in real time.
  • Our in-house intelligence agency, Predictive Data Lab, analyzes the overall campaign results to help us derive actionable business insights and predictive modeling which educates the team on campaign optimizations.