Ruh-Roh: City Attorney Busts Justin Bieber for Guerrilla Marketing Campaign


“First I'll acknowledge / Your trust has been broken now.” 

So begins Justin Bieber's “Recovery,” but it's going to take a lot of soulful longing and chillin' by the fire eatin' fondue for Bieber to make up with City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who is gunning hard for the 21-year-old Canadian musician after a guerrilla marketing campaign left S.F. sidewalks stenciled with ads for Bieber's album Purpose.

[jump] Herrera sent a strongly worded letter to Def Jam Records and Universal Music Group today, promising swift action in pursuit of a graffiti abatement. As the boundary between graffiti and street art is porous at best, it seems like the City Attorney's ire is also focused on the outrage of using city property as free advertising space. Noting that unlike other campaigns, it has “otherwise persisted undiminished through several rainstorms,” Herrera objected to the graffiti on the grounds that it “exploits our City's walkable neighborhoods and robust tourism.”

That it's an eyesore is barely debatable. But Herrera goes a little overboard in accusing the record labels of endangering pedestrians with flashy distractions and, in even more of a stretch, goes full broken-windows-policing with a claim that teen Beliebers will see that “likeminded lawlessness and contempt for public property are condoned and encouraged by its beneficiaries.” (White-collar criminals never seem to get slapped with that moral hazard charge, do they?)

For his part, Bieber's attention seems preoccupied with fighting with other bands on social media.

Beyond reacting to this one incident, Herrera is working with Sup. Aaron Peskin to up the penalties for guerrilla marketing. Still, according to Rolling Stone, S.F. wasn't the only city Bieber's marketers tagged: They hit Sydney, London, Stockholm, Paris, Oslo, and Berlin, too. (Kinda Eurocentric, if you ask me. They couldn't include Tokyo? Although we should arguably be flattered to be grouped among such alpha world cities.)

This is hardly Justin Bieber's first scrape with the law. He got accused of egging his neighbors' house in Calabasas, vandalizing property in Brazil, fighting with a photographer in Argentina — and of course, there's that pesky DUI. (Plus, some 273,000 Americans want to deport him.) If this complaint makes it all the way to the top, it would be pretty cool to see Bieber tasked with cleaning it up himself (although it would become a total circus in seconds). New York did something similar in 2006 when it ordered Boy George to pick up trash after he was busted for coke possession, so why not?

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