Hey, Biebs, looks like it is too late to say sorry. In a letter addressed to both Def Jam Records and Universal Music Group, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today demanded the cooperation of both companies in the removal of corporate-sponsored pro-Justin Bieber graffiti spread across San Francisco.
The graffiti, which according to the City Attorney's Office is not limited to one neighborhood, is spray-paint stenciled ads for the Canadian pop star's recently released album Purpose.
Herrera is not feeling it for obvious reasons, and is insisting that the two companies not only help his office determine who, specifically, is responsible, but also potentially foot the bill for the clean up.
"With this letter, in accordance with my authority under state and local law, I demand your cooperation in my office’s investigation to identify all parties—including but not limited to business entities, individuals, contractors, subcontractors, or their agents—responsible for the aforementioned illegal graffiti vandalism in San Francisco," writes Herrera.
The City Attorney notes that each individual tag could result in a fine of $2,500, and that this would not be the first time San Francisco has taken on corporate marketers for similar stunts — referencing successful past cases against IBM, NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasting, and Zynga.
Herrera, who is clearly no fan of graffiti in any form, seems to take particular exception to corporate tagging of city property — going so far as to suggest that this specific example represents a diss from Bieber himself.
"This prohibited marketing practice illegally exploits our City’s walkable neighborhoods and robust tourism," he writes. "[It] intentionally creates visual distractions that pose risks to pedestrians on busy rights of way; and irresponsibly communicates to young people that likeminded 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."
Whether this letter and potential suit will do anything to deter other corporate interests from tagging the streets of San Francisco is unclear, as any fines levied may simply be viewed as the cost of doing business. After all, bulletin boards aren't cheap either.
At the very least we now know that Dennis Herrera wants no part of it, and is willing to wield the power of his office in an effort to combat corporate tagging. However, may we perhaps suggest that there is one instance of graffiti that the City Attorney could get down with?