Justin Bieber Is Under Fire in San Francisco for Illegal ‘Purpose’ Graffiti Ads

Justin Bieber is in legal trouble again – this time with the city of San Francisco.

The singer’s latest album Purpose was illegally marketed on the sidewalks of SF, and the city is clearly pissed about it. Yesterday, the city attorney sent a letter to Bieber’s music publisher (Def Jam and Universal Music Group) demanding they help determine who’s responsible for the alleged guerrilla-marketing.

The graffiti in question reads “Justin Bieber Purpose #Nov 13.” They haven’t yet washed away despite the area’s recent heavy rainstorms, unlike other sidewalk marketing campaigns that used chalk. As a result, public works crews have had to remove some of the graffiti at great expense, but the figure was not provided. The city attorney’s office released photographs of eight instances of the graffiti and asked for Universal’s help in determining its full scope.

Along with the letter, the city attorney’s office released several photographs of the graffiti, which has been found around the Haight-Ashbury and other neighborhoods:

San Francisco’s city attorney Dennis Herrera wrote:

This prohibited marketing practice illegally exploits our City’s walkable neighborhoods and robust tourism; intentionally creates visual distractions that pose risks to pedestrians on busy rights of way; and irresponsibly tells our youth that like-minded lawlessness and contempt for public property are condoned and encouraged by its beneficiaries, including Mr. Bieber and the record labels that produce and promote him.

According to the city’s release, they consider it “commercially sponsored graffiti vandalism,” and many residents have complained to City officials about the unwelcome sight.

San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru commented:

Our sidewalks in San Francisco are not canvasses for corporate advertising, and we have made that clear.  Yet these guerrilla marketers believe they are above the law when it comes to blighting our city and we will take a strong stand against them. The definition of graffiti is tagging someone else’s property without permission, and they certainly did not have our permission to do this to our sidewalks.

In addition to determining who’s responsible for the graffiti and Def Jam and UMG’s cooperation, the city is requesting “a proposal to resolve the full scope of wrongdoing and avoid civil litigation. Worse case scenario, the city attorney’s office could sue whoever’s responsible with court-ordered injunctions, penalties of roughly $2,500 for each ad, and restitution.

Graffiti was used by Biebs back in October in order to reveal the track titles for Purpose. In the campaign, each song name was written as graffiti art in different pre-approved cities around the world, including Sydney, London, Stockholm, Paris, Oslo and Berlin.