Fake News: Figliulo & Partners’ First Spot for CNN Reminds Us That an Apple Is Not a Banana

By Patrick Coffee Comment

So you may have heard about a debate in this country over media coverage and confirmation bias, or the ability to report on politics without bringing opinion into it, or one very fat man’s tendency to scream at everyone who isn’t telling him exactly what he wants to hear.

Today, CNN’s creative marketing department launched a new campaign under what will be the network’s new tagline, “Facts First.”

It marks the first work from new creative agency Figliulo&Partners, and it makes a very abstract point with a simple piece of fruit … which is not in any way related to another kind of fruit. They’re two completely different things, see??

Unless you’ve been living in the world’s deepest, darkest cave for the past two years or so, it should be pretty clear what they’re alluding to here. The copy does offer some additional framing, though:

Facts are facts. They aren’t colored by emotion or bias. They are indisputable. There is no alternative to a fact. Facts explain things. What they are, how they happened. Facts are not interpretations. Once facts are established, opinions can be formed. And while opinions matter, they don’t change the facts. That’s why, at CNN, we start with the facts first.

From the release, which notes that the spot used the apple to keep things visually simple and compelling: “this work sounds a clear and relatable reminder to all that facts are fixed, finite in nature and fundamentally different than opinion.”

Of course that’s true. But one might argue that there’s a larger problem: many, many Americans want the media they consume to reinforce their existing opinions, not challenge them to reconsider any personal beliefs or even force them to spend time and effort trying to better understand a complicated story.

F&P partner and chief creative officer Scott Vitrone, who came aboard in February, kind of addresses this in his quote:

“It’s no secret that the line between opinion and fact is becoming increasingly blurred for Americans. It would have been easy to just fire another shot in this increasingly hazy debate, but we wanted this campaign to strike right at the heart of the issue. This is what a fact is; plain and simple. Only after that basic understanding reestablished can we move on meaningfully into the specifics of today’s issues.”

Again, this is true. But CNN’s most significant contribution to American politics and society at large may well be the standard hour-long talking head panel program, in which self-appointed experts or “influencers” vie for attention by providing viewers with … their opinions. And most of them get paid more than the reporters behind those facts, too, because advertisers, aka your clients, want to get in front of prime time viewers eager to see people yell over one another.

This is our media model.