‘Welcome to the Land of the Free Press’ - a provocative campaign from Helsingin Sanomat and TBWA\Helsinki
Billboards on the presidents’ routes from the airport to the summit have been filled with news headlines regarding them and their attitude towards the freedom of the press.
As Finland was readying itself for the visits of presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, Helsingin Sanomat, along with its agency TBWA\Helsinki, filled outdoor media on the presidents’ route from the airport to the summit with headlines taken directly from Helsingin Sanomat articles. There are almost 300 individual posters on the route.
The headlines highlight the presidents’ turbulent relations with the media and were published between the years 2000 and 2018.
According to Kaius Niemi, senior editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, the campaign is a stand for the freedom of the press.
”This is a statement on behalf of critical and high quality journalism. As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Finland, we want to remind them of the importance of free press. The media shouldn’t be the lap dog of any president or regime,” says Niemi.
“We want to show our support to those colleagues who have to fight in ever toughening circumstances on a daily basis both in the US and Russia. Our goal is to raise the topic of the freedom of the press around the world.”
The relations between both the Russian and United States presidents and the free press have been problematic. In Russia, the freedom of the press has become almost non-existent during the reign of Putin. In the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Russia is ranked 148. The index consists of 180 countries.
The United States is ranked 45th, considerably higher than Russia but still far from the top. President Trump is well known for his contemptuous statements and attitude towards the media.
He has raised hatred towards critical media among his supporters with his remarks. Trump has called the free press “the enemy of the people” and “the opposition party”, among other things.
As the presidents meet in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat has the opportunity to remind them of the importance of free press as a corner stone of all democratic civil societies.
“We need to work harder to ensure press freedom in Finland.” says Kaius Niemi. At the moment, Finland is ranked fourth in the World Press Freedom Index.
The campaign is carried out in cooperation with TBWA\Helsinki and outdoor companies Clear Channel and JCDecaux, which joined forces to create a chronological storyline from placement to placement throughout the route. The total takeover is spread out on nearly 300 surfaces throughout the presidents' predicted driving routes and around the summit location, making it an inescapable takeover.
TBWA’s CCO Jyrki Poutanen says the campaign is a brave way to live out the brand’s vision: ”Helsingin Sanomat is set to protect the purity of journalistic media and press freedom; to fight biased and falsified information with facts and legitimate sources. This particular event gave them an opportunity to execute that agenda on a greater level.”