San Francisco’s City Attorney Dennis Herrera is sending a clear message to pop singer Justin Bieber’s record label: Don’t mess with our city.
After Herrera’s office and the San Francisco Department of Public Works received a number of complaints from residents of the graffiti on city sidewalks promoting Bieber’s latest album “Purpose,” Herrera is seeking to identify those responsible for the ads.
Even after several rainstorms, the ads are still there touting the album’s Nov. 13 release date. Their durability has led Herrera to believe that the ads were spray-painted on the sidewalks.
Herrera wrote a letter to Bieber’s record label, Def Jam Recordings, Inc, which is under the Universal Music Group, that the guerrilla marketing campaign on public sidewalks is illegal and that his office has taken action before against other companies like Zynga who have used city sidewalks as a canvas for promotional purposes:
“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 responsible for lawless marketing tactics that intend to financially benefit your respective companies.”
Herrera said that The City may seek up to $2,500 per unlawful act under the state and city law.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin is working on drafting legislation to increase those civil penalties with the input from the city attorney and Public Works department.
The City spends at least $20 million a year cleaning graffiti, which comes at the taxpayers expense, said Herrera.
Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru said in a statement that the City’s sidewalks are not for corporate advertising:
“Yet guerrilla marketers believe they are above the law when it comes to blighting our city and we will take a strong stand against them.”
Herrera said in his letter to hopes to resolve the issue with the record label and to avoid civil litigation.
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. He covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent over a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a native in the city and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Email tips to [email protected]