Calgary agency gets Trump served with cease-and-desist letter for saying 'fake news'

A Calgary advertising company convinced the largest U.S. organization of journalists to apply to trademark the term "fake news" in order to stop U.S. President Donald Trump from indiscriminately hurling it at the free press.

Trademark success unlikely, but conversation still worth having, says creative director

A screengrab from the satirical video shows a man proudly displaying a cease-and-desist letter addressed to U.S. President Trump as if it were a freshly inked executive order. (Fake NewsTM/YouTube)

"How do you stop that guy in the Oval Office from confusing the American people with his incorrect use of the term fake news? You trademark it."

That's a line from a satirical video produced by a Calgary advertising agency that has partnered with the largest journalist organization in America to do just that — apply for a trademark on the term "fake news."

Together, Wax Partnership and the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists have sent a cease-and-desist letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his blatant misuse of the label is an attempt to discredit legitimate journalists.

"As a communications company, and as individuals who see the importance of free and independent press as part of a healthy democracy, it was an idea that we came up with ourselves," said Wax creative director Nick Asik in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener.

They pitched the idea for a trademark application to the Society of Professional Journalists, which decided to go through with the three-month long process.

Asik said it's not about whether the trademark is ultimately approved or rejected; the goal is to have a conversation — even if it is a bit cheeky at times — about critical thinking and media literacy. 

"Real fake news isn't news at all. It's completely made up, ignoring the very fundamentals of journalism, like facts and sources," says the main actor in the ad, as the camera closes in on a fake news article with the headline "Centaur surgery a success!"

To get people to stop and think about what fake news really is, a Calgary ad agency produced this video and pitched the idea of a trademark to the Society of Professional Journalists. (Fake NewsTM/YouTube)

The Fake News™ campaign includes a full website with information about how to verify the authenticity of articles, how to spot false information and why the term "fake news" shouldn't be indiscriminately hurled at people or statements you disagree with.

The campaign is not meant to be partisan, Asik said. It's a broad push to restore the public trust in a free and independent press, which includes journalists from all points along the political spectrum.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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