San Francisco’s city attorney wants to know who is behind a graffiti campaign promoting Justin Bieber’s latest album, Purpose, on the city’s sidewalks.
On Monday, city attorney Dennis Herrera sent a letter to the record label Bieber is signed to. Namely: Universal Music Group through one of its subsidiaries, Def Jam Recordings, demanding that the label reveal the graffiti locations and identify whoever is responsible for spray-painting city sidewalks with promotional ads for Purpose.
According to Herrera, the spray paint used in the graffiti won’t come off, even after recent rainstorms. Consequently, city crews have removed some of the paint while some officials have reportedly received complaints.
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) December 28, 2015
However, Gossip Cop is reporting the graffiti art in question is the work of a fan or a group of Bieber fans and not the superstar’s record label.
Attorney Herrera’s letter to Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels and Universal Music Group’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President Jeffrey Harleston reads, “As city attorney, I take the illegal graffiti marketed for Mr. Bieber’s album seriously, and I will aggressively pursue all available penalties and costs from those responsible for lawless marketing tactics that intend to financially benefit your respective companies.”
In a press release, Herrera said the Bieber ads differed from other sidewalk graffiti marketing campaigns that were done with chalk. The Bieber ads are apparently created with stencils and permanent spray paint.
According to the release, Herrera can pursue civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and further restitution for fees and costs. NBC News reports moves are being made in San Francisco to raise the amount of the fine.
As yet, neither Bartels in New York, nor Harleston in Santa Monica, have responded for comment. The Canadian heartthrob was also sent a request for comment via Twitter.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) December 28, 2015
A modified version of the Bieber-Purpose “graffiti” can be seen in the Twitter embed above. It’s claimed it was marked up by a San Franciscan angered by the art work.
NBC reports the illegal sidewalk ads, which read “Justin Bieber Purpose #Nov. 13,” were noticed around mid-December, in SoMa, the Mission and Upper Haight neighborhoods. Some residents reportedly complained after trying, and failing, to erase the markings.
Herrerra’s spokesman, Matt Dorsey, stated he doesn’t know how many illegally painted ads are dotted around San Francisco, but his office has reportedly sent at least eight pieces of graffiti evidence (photos or footage) to Bieber’s label and attorney.
On Monday, Dorsey said, “These are visual distractions for pedestrian safety. And it sends a message to young people, ‘Hey, if Justin Bieber does this, it’s OK for you to do it.’”
Herrera’s letter concluded by asking Bartels and Harleston to contact his office to “begin the process of resolving the harms done to San Francisco and its residents on your companies’ behalf.”
Reports note Herrera revealed San Francisco has a track record of punishing companies for unlawful ad campaigns with fines of up to six figures. Dorsey stated he hopes those who marked up sidewalks will “make things right.”
As the Inquisitr reported, the song titles for Purpose were rolled out on Bieber’s Twitter account back in October, revealing an international promotional campaign that showed each track name as graffiti art in different cities around the world. These included London, Oslo, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, and more. All of the cities approved of the artwork.
In contrast, San Francisco did not approve artwork, which raises the crucial question of whether or not the graffiti ads are the work of someone (or people) on behalf of Justin Bieber’s record labels — or their own agency.
[Photo via Jason Merritt/Getty Images]