Marianne Malina

Raise Hell Like a Texas Woman
June 19 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: Don't Mess With Texas Women

Let’s travel to a place where everything’s bigger. We’re talking about Texas, and particularly about its feisty females. From Latin recording artist Selena to comedienne Carol Burnett, many admirable women from the Lone Star State have found remarkable success. But today, let’s channel the qualities of one especially uncompromising Texan woman: Ann Richards. This former governor of Texas once said she didn’t want her tombstone inscribed with how clean she kept her house but how she opened government to everyone. As you navigate life, be inspired by Ann Richards to brazenly fight for a social cause important to you, all while having a little fun with it. After all, as we’re sure Texas’ beloved former governor would attest, when you’re working to get your point across, a little sassiness never hurts!


Don’t Mess With Texas: Sure, it’s a pretty powerful statement, but do you know where it came from? Back in 1985, when the Texas Department of Transportation was in search of an influential marketing campaign that urged Texans to keep the Lone Star State litter-free, an ad agency in Austin, Texas, called GSD&M created the slogan, to smashing success. Initially launched in a TV ad featuring Texas legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, Don’t Mess With Texas became an enduring legacy, spawning countless litter-prevention efforts and remaining a prominent advertising campaign more than 30 years after its inception.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Marianne Malina, President of GSD&M

That commanding slogan has since morphed into another memorable message of empowerment: Don’t mess with Texas women. And today’s Woman to Watch, Marianne Malina, absolutely embodies that decree. As the president of lauded ad agency GSD&M, she’s definitely a spirited force to be reckoned with.

Born in Oregon and named by an Indonesian guru, Marianne was instilled with independence, a maverick spirit and lots of curiosity from a young age, proving that sometimes Texas is simply a state of mind. When she was just 13, her dad gave her a bus pass and schedule, letting her know her days of being chauffeured around were done. Though a scary situation for a young teenager, Marianne eventually embraced the idea and gained further independence and confidence, characteristics she’s only cultivated since.

During nearly two decades at GSD&M working as a “problem-solver, culture inspirer and talent maximizer,” Marianne has helped shape every aspect of the business, from talent sourcing to account planning. If an ad has stopped you midbite into a breakfast taco because it was just that engaging, it’s likely GSD&M and Marianne had something to do with it. Major brands like Southwest Airlines, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Walgreens and Dodge have received meaningful customer engagement through the agency’s work. Do you remember that hilarious ad for avocados from Mexico that aired during this year’s Super Bowl? Purchase consideration rose the most of any Super Bowl advertiser, thanks to GSD&M’s push for the addictive fruit.

It’s fair to say Marianne really knows her stuff. But she’s not limited to bringing her mastery and authority to advertising campaigns. In fact, she’s one of 180 female C-level advertising execs who are part of Time’s Up Advertising, which aims to address issues of workplace discrimination, harassment and abuse while creating equitable and safe workplace cultures. With Marianne’s help, the group is on a mission to drive new policies, practices, decisions and actions that “result in more balanced, diverse and accountable leadership.” And that may be Marianne’s most significant work yet. Like we say in the Lone Star State, don’t mess with Texas women!

There’s no right way to build your confidence. It’s a series of trial and error and living in the moment. Today’s Woman to Watch, Marianne Malina, shares with us how she built up her confidence through independence. To read her confidence tips, click the link here or head over to


Let’s finish today’s empowering story with a quote from former Texas governor Ann Richards. When asked what she would’ve done differently had she known she’d only serve one term as governor, she responded:

“Oh, I would probably have raised more hell.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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