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Cannes 2017

Khai On Titanium: The Category For The Uncategorizable

Cannes Lions is the most revered and famous advertising festival of the year. It’s a week-long celebration of everything the industry is. Over the years, that definition has become murky. What even is “advertising”? Nowadays at Cannes Lions, you’re as likely to hear great storytelling insights as you are the newest VR technology.

But Cannes is and always will be about the awards, too. Award categories have changed over the years to reflect the new platforms and distribution models that continue to matter to consumers. The Titanium category is a relatively recent reflection of that change; there is no hard and fast criteria for Titanium. It’s just about the best work.

One of our own has the great honor of leading the Titanium jury this year: Co-Chairman and Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Tham Khai Meng. He recently spoke to Creative Review about a number of issues surrounding the Titanium category and Cannes Lions as a whole.

“When I judged this category in 2009, I remember without fail, every morning of judging there would be an argument about the definition of the category,” Khai said. “At that time we were surrounded by a blizzard of new technologies and platforms but this, of course, is not what Titanium was set up to celebrate.

“I believe at its heart it’s about work that is so fresh, powerful and unexpected that it isn’t clear what category it belongs in. But it feels so ‘right’, it demands recognition somewhere. It’s the category for the uncategorisable.”

In the full interview, Khai touches on whether or not Cannes truly reflects the best of the ad industry, if there are too many awards given out, and whether or not Cannes has morphed into an echo chamber. You can read the full Q&A here.

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