Titanium Lions Revisited—Again

NEW YORK Just four years old and the Titanium award is suffering yet another identity crisis. The category, conceived in 2003 by then-Film and Press jury president Dan Wieden to reward groundbreaking advertising and marketing concepts, has been revised, renamed and reconfigured nearly each year of its existence.

This year is the first that there will be both Titanium and Integrated categories (Titanium now being defined as “breakthrough ideas,” per the festival). They will be assessed by one jury, a nine-member interdisciplinary group led by jury president Alex Bogusky, CCO of Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, Colo.

After reaching a shortlist, the jury will award Integrated Lions, an Integrated Grand Prix and, if the work is deemed worthy, Titanium Lions and a Grand Prix.

The festival has been wrestling with the definition of the award as well as struggling to find an appropriate place for integrated campaigns, which until 2005 did not have their own Lions. That year, the Titanium was relaunched as an Integrated award. But the jury, led by Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, found the set number of media channels required and budgetary categories limiting, and awarded no single Titanium Grand Prix. Instead, it honored four campaigns, including one from the U.S., Crispin’s “Counterfeit” Mini campaign.

In 2006, the “Integrated” tag was removed from the Titanium, leaving such campaigns adrift once again, and the Titanium jury, led by David Lubars, chairman and CCO of BBDO North America in New York, considered entries with no media or category limitations. Yet that change caused problems of its own. “I felt bad about killing a lot of integrated campaigns because there were 10 to 12 great campaigns,” said Lubars.

Last year, the jury withheld a Titanium Grand Prix, but honored a custom-designed bar code from Japan with a Lion.

The morphing definition and entry rules of the prestigious Titanium award have led to some confusion among the delegation of what to expect. However, Bogusky said the evolution is inherent in its charter. “It’s just the nature of the award when you are judging something that is supposed to be about innovation,” he said. “You are constantly trying to fine-tune and ask what is that and what does it mean. I don’t want to go into it with a set idea of what it should be. It defeats the whole purpose. I’m hoping to discover what it means.”

The selections are always swirling in controversy after the awards show on the final night of the festival, and this year Bogusky expects things will be no different. “I’m a little nervous,” he said. “It’s definitely the most contentious and controversial of anything that you are going to judge.”