Trump went to war with free press almost as soon as he became president, with his relentless “fake news” catchcry firing missiles at any words he doesn’t like. Trump has called the free press “the enemy of the people” and “the opposition party”, among other things. It is apparent that Putin doesn’t believe in the importance of a free press at all. His control of the media was achieved by co-opting, jail or exile. Both leaders are determined to control the press, each in his own way. 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.
These two men held a summit meeting in Helsinki on July 16. And the Nordics’ largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, took on the opportunity to make a stand for freedom of the press. Finland is ranked 4th in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.
The campaign, Welcome to the Land of Free Press, by TBWA\Helsinki was built around 300 individual billboards, filling outdoor media spaces on the presidents’ routes from the airport to the summit, with headlines taken directly from Helsingin Sanomat articles published between 2000 and 2018 that highlight the leaders’ attacks on press freedom and messages welcoming the men to a country where freedom of the press exists.
Kaius Niemi, senior editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, explained, “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 lapdog of any president or regime.”
“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. We need to work harder to ensure press freedom in Finland.”
TBWA\Helsinki’s campaign was created with outdoor media companies, Clear Channel and JCDecaux. The partners joined forces to create a chronological storyline along the route.
TBWA chief creative officer, Jyrki Poutanen, stated, “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.”