The Land of Free Press: TBWA\HELSINKI & Helsingin Sanomat

TBWA\HELSINKI and Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in the Nordics, are greeting presidents Putin and Trump with a reminder of press freedom during their summit in Helsinki.

Jyrki Poutanen
Chief Creative Officer \ Partner TBWA\Helsinki

Lauri Gran
Lead Creative/Copywriter TBWA\Helsinki

Erno Reinikainen
Directeur de création TBWA\Helsinki

Tell us about your role/TBWA's role in the creation of this work

Our "Welcome to the Land of Free Press" campaign was sparked from Lauri Gran, one of our lead creatives here at TBWA\Helsinki, who came up with the idea at the exact moment the Trump-Putin Helsinki Summit date was announced. From then on, together with the team's Creative Director Erno Reinikainen it was our responsibility to make sure this idea saw the light of day. We had to get the right people onboard both internally and externally (the summit date being announced at the beginning of our holiday season here in Helsinki didn't help!) and then of course sell the idea to our client partner, the Nordic's largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Once we were given the green light from their Editor-in-Chief Kaius Niemi, the entire TBWA team and the client worked together to fine tune the idea. This wasn't just any campaign, it was one that would require some serious guts to execute and we had to make sure our client was ready!


Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

This campaign was all about freedom of the press, an issue that deserves more attention now more than ever. At TBWA\Helsinki we always try to have our finger on the pulse when it comes to current culture and global affairs, and ensure our client partners are part of the conversation when it matters most. When it was announced that the Trump-Putin Summit was being held in Helsinki on July 16, it was the perfect window to have Helsingin Sanomat execute against that agenda and against one that is at the core of their foundation; promote freedom of the press.

Once we launched this campaign we believe we were successful against those objectives, and were able to:

  • Send a clear message to the visiting world leaders on the importance of free press in democracy
  • Demonstrate to both the local and global community as to what free press truly means
  • Strengthen Finland's global reputation as the pure, free and overall a good country that it is
  • Help further showcase the Helsingin Sanomat brand and what it stands for


Tell us about the details creative brief, what did it ask?

There was no brief. This was a proactive idea based on the opportunities we saw on the back of the Trump-Putin Summit.


Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

The importance of speaking directly to the world leaders about the very thing they so often downplay.


Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?

There weren’t any other alternatives; this was it. We had to be quick and clever, all whilst making sure this would make an impact on the visiting leaders and the world at large. Once our clients were presented with the idea, it was a no-brainer to push ahead and make it happen.

How did the client initially react to this idea?

Helsingin Sanomat were all onboard from the beginning, which reflects their brave attitude. As the biggest newspaper in the Nordics, they have a strong voice and a powerful position in culture, and we knew they would use this for good and as a result be enthusiastic about the idea.


What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

Time was our biggest opponent; we didn’t have much of it to make this happen. From the time of the announcement just three weeks ago we had to establish the idea, pitch and sell, produce 300+ billboards, identify the three possible presidential transport routes they may take once they landed and ensure every piece of artwork was placed all before they arrived! Not to mention the grand finale in the city center (see images below). Thankfully we were able to work with two different outdoor vendors JCDcaux and Clear Channel who were both incredibly helpful.


What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

The biggest and most important lesson we all faced was that, whenever you are putting together a creative campaign for a client, always base it on a belief that you feel needs and deserves your action and attention in our world today (making sure it's a fit for the brand of course). Oh, and make sure there are superpower presidents present if possible!


Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

Let’s see. The other issue important to Helsingin Sanomat is gender equality, both within the content they create and the sources they utilize. We are already discussing what we can do; maybe this will be a window for furthering that agenda. We are both passionate to find the right way to have our client part of the conversation, so definitely stay tuned on that front.