While President Donald Trump’s visit to the U.K. was met with widespread protest, some of his critics in Finland took another approach to sending the polarizing world leader a message.
Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat created a massive outdoor ad campaign, focused along Trump’s route to his Helsinki summit today with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The stark ads, featuring only black text on white backgrounds, celebrated the importance of a free press, with some messages aimed directly at the world leaders, while others shared headlines from recent years about the two presidents’ frequent hostility toward journalists.
“This is a statement on behalf of critical and high-quality journalism,” says Kaius Niemi, editor in chief of the newspaper. “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.”
Niemi says the ad campaign is meant to go beyond celebrating Finland’s independent press, sparking global conversations about government interference and threats aimed at the media.
“We want to show our support to those colleagues who have to fight in ever toughening circumstances on a daily basis both in the U.S. and Russia,” Niemi says. “Our goal is to raise the topic of the freedom of the press around the world.”
The campaign was created by agency TBWA\Helsinki in partnership with outdoor companies Clear Channel and JCDecaux. The displays were planned in a way that headlines would be presented chronologically along the route taken by the presidents from the airport to the summit.
“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,” says Jyrki Poutanen, CCO of TBWA\Helsinki. “This particular event gave them an opportunity to execute that agenda on a greater level.”
In a press release about the campaign, Helsingin Sanomat cites Russia’s ranking as 148th of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, noting that the U.S., at 45th place, is “considerably higher than Russia but still far from the top.”
The top-ranked countries in the World Press Freedom Index are largely Scandinavian and Northern European, with Norway at No. 1, followed by Sweden, The Netherlands and Finland. The lowest-ranked country on the index is North Korea.