Since its introduction to Texas in 2012, Indio beer — a Mexican dark beer that is part of the Heineken portfolio — hasn't yet made waves, other than a massively financed marketing campaign last year. Now Heineken is giving it another go-round, but this time via a more pernicious route: "reverse graffiti" on downtown Dallas sidewalks, done stealthily in the dead of night.
Reverse graffiti is a process where you etch an image into cement by pressure-washing a stencil cut-out. The "clean" part stands out from the dirtier wall or sidewalk surrounding it.
The campaign began in May. A trio of three guys was first spotted at 3 am on May 13, a Sunday night, cruising Deep Ellum in a well-appointed power-washing truck. Jerking to a halt, they turned on a noisy generator and unraveled water hoses. Two and three times on each block, they pulled out a stencil and blasted it for five minutes with 4,000 pounds of pressurized water.
When they were done, they left an image on the drenched sidewalk of a guy with a spear and shield and the oooh radical words "Do Your Thing."
Sort of like the "thing" they were doing for Heineken, all in a night's work, at a fee of about $2,500.
The graffiti crew was back in action on the night of June 5, returning to the very same locations to apply another set of their "clean" yet noxious graffiti images.
On a certain level, it's rather ingenious in that no paint is being sprayed. But officially, it still falls under the city's definition of graffiti: "Graffiti is defined as any marking, including but not limited to any inscription, slogan, drawing, painting, symbol, logo, name, character or figure that is made in any manner on property without the owner's permission."
Gustavo Guerra Maza, the beer's brand director, says that the company wants to use unconventional methods and venues to communicate with the Indio consumer, which he describes as a young Latin male.
"Perhaps that could be a mural or a building or something that relates to our consumer and where he's located. We try to have the platform within his reach," he says.
Including graffiti? "Any piece of communication, we have our legal department look into that," he says. "We don't want to do something that is not legal."
Unfortunately, the images will last "indefinitely," says Gary Anderson, of Anderson Pressure Washing, a Dallas company that cleans parking lots.
"It doesn't take any time to put down a logo like that, but getting rid of it would take double the time," Anderson says. "Unless you have your whole sidewalk deep-cleaned, it could stay there forever."