This Beer Brand Recreated an Entire Street Corner After Colombia’s Government Banned Drinking in Public

Cerveza Poker and DDB keep the neighborhood alive

It's a creative way to get around government regulations. Cerveza Poker
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name … like your corner bodega, for example.

In Colombia, however, that’s no longer quite so simple if you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two. Early last year, the country’s government passed a new police code encouraging citizens to report others for minor infractions like graffiti, noise violations and drinking in public. These new restrictions apply to open areas like sidewalks as well as restaurant terraces.

While previous Colombian drinking laws were more lenient than those in the United States, anyone who has tried to brown-bag a brew in Central Park can relate to the frustration consumers faced when they were unable to drink openly with their friends.

Beer brand Poker and its ad agency DDB Colombia came up with a truly novel solution to this problem: They partnered with local artisans to recreate a popular neighborhood bodega in a private space removed from the street. In order to maintain the spirit of the sidewalk and parking lot that doubled as a hangout spot, they “cloned” every detail, down to graffiti signs and scuff marks on the walls.

The ultimate purpose of this work is to encourage Colombian lawmakers to reconsider the 2017 bill.

“When the law that prohibits drinking a couple beers with friends in public spaces came up and started to be enforced, we knew we had to do something to defend these spaces, as they are places where we culturally hang out with friends in Colombia,” said DDB Colombia chief creative officer Leo Macías.

“Therefore, we found out that a sidewalk had never been cloned, so we did it!” Macías added. “We cloned every single detail of a public space, but into a private outdoor area, so we could, again, drink a few beers with friends in the least legal sidewalks in the country.”

The government’s restrictions are understandably unpopular with young people, and an overwhelming majority of respondents to a social media study involving 11,000 consumers said they don’t think “sharing a few beers with their friends on a sidewalk” is harmful.

“At Poker, a brand that represents friendship, we do believe there should be an open space to dialogue and review some Police Code of Conduct restrictions going against moments of socialization,” said the brand’s director Miguel Merino.

He added that other countries “with the same type of restrictions” had designated areas for drinking “due to coexistence agreements where citizens and businesses paired up to compromise while respecting the law.”

Poker plans to move forward with this initiative by recreating sidewalk spaces in other major Colombian cities as Congress decides whether to review the bill.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.