Justin Bieber in hot water for graffiti promotion

Updated 10:25 AM EST, Thu December 31, 2015
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Story highlights

The singer's marketing team used graffiti to promote his newest album, "Purpose"

San Francisco officials want Bieber's representatives to clean up the street art

(CNN) —  

It’s too late for Justin Bieber to say “Sorry” in San Francisco.

The pop star and his record labels are under fire there for using graffiti to market Bieber’s new album, “Purpose.” The stenciled graffiti appeared on sidewalks all over the city and haven’t washed off with recent rains.

“I don’t think that’s something the taxpayers should have to pay for,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera told CNN affiliate KGO. He’s upset the singer’s team apparently used permanent paint instead of a chalk-based substance.

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Residents have been complaining to city officials for weeks; at least one of the signs was altered to read “Justin Bieber serves no Purpose,” using the title of the album he released in November.

In a letter to Bieber’s record company, Herrera called the stunt “illegal graffiti marketing” and ordered executives to assist with tracking down whoever is responsible and helping with the cleanup.

He also suggested that the city had the option of going to court and seeking $2,500 in civil penalties per violation.

Universal Music Group hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

The campaign also appeared in other cities, including Los Angeles, though a representative for Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city has not been getting complaints and has no action planned against Bieber’s representatives.

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“We get requests every week for this kind of thing,” said Adam Salacuse of Alt Terrain Marketing, which specializes in alternative marketing campaigns but is not behind the Bieber graffiti in San Francisco.

“We steer them away,” he said, because of the legal complications from city to city.

Graffiti appear to be a running theme in the promotion of Bieber’s album. All of the track titles were released via photos of elaborate graffiti artwork on the star’s Instagram page. The worldwide locations ranged from Paris to Washington, where a building owner reportedly consented to the display.

The graffiti in San Francisco are much smaller and confined to the sidewalks. Still, the city has been cracking down on graffiti, though fines are often “a cost of doing business,” said City Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is proposing tougher penalties for corporate violators.

“There has to be some larger disincentives to prevent this kind of lawless behavior,” Peskin told KGO.