As the world struggles to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus, it hasn’t helped that misinformation around the pandemic continues to spread, with even leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump disseminating statements about the epidemic that public health officials and doctors consider misleading or flat-out wrong.
It’s gotten to the point that news organizations including MSNBC and CNN have limited their coverage of the POTUS’ press conferences on the pandemic. Alex Koppelman, managing editor of CNN Business, had written into the networks’ “Reliable Sources” newsletter saying that “there is a very real possibility that in broadcasting these press conferences live or in quickly publishing and blasting out his words in mobile alerts, we are actively misinforming our audience” and the network. We need to ask ourselves whether we’re doing them a genuine disservice.”
As the networks become more careful about their coverage, last night CNN debuted a new ad in its “Facts First” campaign, an all-typography spot that quietly lays out the crucial role of facts in a world growing increasingly anxious and confused in the midst of the coronavirus threat.
“In a time of uncertainty, facts provide clarity,” copy reads. “In a time of anxiety, facts comfort. In a time of misinformation, facts correct. In a time of division, facts unite. In a time of crisis, facts matter most.”
CNN’s agency FIG created the spot in less than 24 hours and it began airing on the network last night. The need for both expediency and gravity drove the decision to use text alone. The “Facts First” brand campaign debuted in 2017 with another simple ad that used the image of an apple as a metaphor for the propagation of false news.
The new spot will continue to run during CNN’s 24-hour coverage of the coronavirus and on the network’s social feeds.