"Don't Mess With California" Title CardIn the fall of 2010, with the Texas oil companies spending millions in a high-profile campaign to overturn California's landmark environmental law, Gavin Newsom made a clear and compelling contrast with his opponent in the Lieutenant Governor's race.

In this context, Newsom's " Don't Mess with California" message directly challenged both his opponent and the Texas oil companies invading California. The strategy demonstrates the power and economy of an effective contrastive message. In internal ad tests, "Don't Mess with California" produced a 24-point shift in the race – functioning remarkably as both a positive and negative vehicle. This was critical in a down-ballot campaign in California's vast television market. The campaign echoed the theme with an accompanying contrast, "Don't Mess with Our Schools."