Bieber, team in hot water over San Francisco graffiti

San Francisco (AFP) –


Justin Bieber launched an aggressive promotional push for his latest album but don't count the city of San Francisco among the Beliebers.

Officials demanded Monday that companies linked to the Canadian singer's campaign clean up ads spray-painted on sidewalks to publicize his album "Purpose."

Graffiti that appeared in busy areas of San Francisco and other cities including New York gave the title and sometimes the album's November 13 release date.

Yet after more than a month that included rain, the ads remain visible, with Bieber's entourage apparently using real spray-paint rather than chalk.

Dennis Herrera, who holds the elected position of city attorney, said that the guerrilla marketing campaign "illegally exploits" San Francisco streets and could cause dangerous distractions to pedestrians.

Herrera posted pictures of the persistent graffiti on his official website with a line taken from one of the album's songs: "It's too late now to say sorry."

The graffiti "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," he said in a letter to Bieber's Def Jam label and its distributor, conglomerate Universal.

Mohammed Nuru, the city's public works director, said that San Francisco sidewalks were "not canvasses for corporate advertising."

"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," he said in a statement.

San Francisco authorities asked for cooperation to clean up the graffiti, threatening if this were not the case to pursue legal action that could cost Bieber's label and distributor up to $2,500 per graffiti site.

The famously left-leaning city has previously forced other corporations including IBM and NBC Universal to pay the costs of clean-up, according to Herrera's office.

There was no immediate response from Bieber, Def Jam or Universal.

"Purpose" is the first album in three years for Bieber, after a period in which he became better known for off-stage legal issues, including a vandalism charge for throwing eggs at a neighbor's house in an upscale part of the Los Angeles area.

With the aggressive advertising and Bieber's new tropical house sound, "Purpose" opened at number one in the United States and numerous other countries, but was quickly eclipsed on the top of the charts by Adele's blockbuster "25."