San Francisco may have been — in the last decade or so — colonized by the tech industry, but it looks like another annoying force is marking its territory on the peninsula: Justin Bieber’s marketing team.
Recently, the sidewalks of San Francisco were besmirched (or bedazzled, depending on your personal status as a belieber/nonbelieber) with graffiti publicizing the release date of his upcoming album (it reads, simply, “Justin Bieber, Purpose #Nov13”). The Independent notes that these signs were painted in cities all over the world — San Francisco just happens to be particularly displeased. (This is, after all, the city that’s been covering its buildings’ walls in pee-repellent paint.) The biggest grievance is the fact that the writing has, as the city attorney’s website puts it, “persisted undiminished through several rainstorms” due to the fact that the signs were seemingly made with spray paint rather than chalk.
SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera is thus attempting to crack down on the responsible parties. Herrera said, in a letter to Universal Music Group:
As City Attorney, I take the illegal graffiti marketed for Bieber’s album seriously and I will aggressively pursue all available penalties and costs from those responsible.
Each Bieber-y mark could be penalized for up to $2,500. This wouldn’t be the first time perceived guerrilla marketers would be greatly fined for scribbling on the city of fog, sourdough soup bowls, and immense tech wealth. According to the Independent, Lyft and NBC Universal recently paid the city for removal costs for similar campaigns, and Billboard notes that the advertisers for an online game recently stuck fake $25,000 bill decals to the streets, and paid the city a $45,000 fine for it.
Herrera clearly takes this all extremely seriously; his letter to Universal goes on to describe all of the risks the Biebering of innocent sidewalks poses:
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 likeminded lawlessness and contempt for public property are condoned and encouraged by its beneficiaries.