While most award categories at advertising’s annual Cannes Lions festival are pretty clear-cut, Titanium has been a notable (and intentional) exception.
The Titanium Lion was founded in 2003 to recognize work that “causes the industry to stop in its tracks and reconsider the way forward,” Wieden + Kennedy co-founder Dan Wieden famously said when announcing the initiative.
In the more than 15 years since, Titanium has become one of the most sought-after prizes at Cannes, with the nominees and winners often sparking more debate than nearly any other category. Last year’s top winner in Titanium was The Palau Pledge, which blended creativity and public policy to help avert environmental destruction in the island nation of Palau.
This year’s Titanium shortlist has been announced, and as you’ll see below, it spans many of advertising’s most talked-about campaigns of the past year—along with a few that might be new to you.
The United States dominated the shortlist, with a daunting 11 of the 20 finalists coming from U.S. shops. The U.K. had two, and there was one shortlisted nominee each from Spain, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Colombia, Poland and France. Winners will be announced at the Cannes Lions awards show on June 21.
Domino’s, ‘Paving for Pizza’
Agency: Crispin Porter Bogusky
Brands often like to say how much they care about you and your community, but how many are willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty? Domino’s sparked national attention and acclaim last year when it offered to help fix potholes in towns across America (by way of $5,000 grants to local governments willing to accept the chain’s generosity). The “Paving for Pizza” campaign drew 137,000 requests in its first two months, motivating the brand to expand it to all 50 states.
Adidas, ‘Billie Jean King Your Shoes’
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
As part of the Adidas “Here to Create Change” campaign, the shoe brand commemorated the 45th anniversary of Billie Jean King’s victory in 1973’s “Battle of the Sexes” against Bobby Riggs. The first step was creating limited-edition shoes similar to her iconic blue pair from her showdown with Riggs, but fans were also encouraged to make their own versions by spraying blue paint onto any shoes they could find—including competitor brands.
Columbia Journalism Review, ‘The Fake News Stand’
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
Can fake news fight fake news? The Columbia Journalism Review hoped so with this project that stocked a newsstand in New York with fictional magazines whose cover stories were drawn from false headlines that had circulated widely online. Inside each publication was CJR’s guide to spotting misinformation before you share it.
Microsoft, ‘Changing the Game’
Agency: McCann New York
With the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft found a way to create an even playing field for gamers with disabilities or limited motor function. Through innovative and customizable interface design, the project allowed these players to finally move and interact as quickly as their friends.
Nike, ‘Dream Crazy’
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Nike kicked off the 30th anniversary of its Just Do It tagline with an ad that quickly drew all eyes onto the brand. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, sidelined after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence, suddenly became the face of the brand, with his truncated career summarized by the line, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” The print ad, which debuted as a tweet by Kaepernick, elicited vocal criticism from Donald Trump and others, but Nike’s sales saw substantial growth.