Japan's Design Barcode wins Titanium Lion

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Titanium-winning work from Japan's Design Barcode Inc.
Titanium-winning work from Japan's Design Barcode Inc.
Design Barcode, a simple, lesser known entry from a small Japanese creative agency took the sole Titanium Lion at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes and conveyed a message from the jury about what the relatively young award category should and should not be. The jury also chose to shortlist only two other entries: the Monopoly Live campaign from Tribal DDB London and Droga5's Cyber Grand Prix –winning viral "Still Free."

The Titanium winner, from Tokyo-based Design Barcode Inc. was the unanimous favorite among the nine-person jury. David Lubars, jury chair and chairman, chief creative officer of BBDO North America said the winner "transcended an ad or a piece of design; it's something that will lift the world. They've taken something that we see everyday that is a depressing symbol and turned it into a new media channel." The entry brings an engaging design twist to the Universal Product Code, turning the traditionally rectangular and linear barcode symbol into an image that reflects the nature of the product it represents. Design Barcode has created the codes for a number of brands in Japan. For the weight loss company Jenny Craig, for example, the barcode becomes the waistband of a person's pants; a code for the Hiroshima Museum takes the shape of a mushroom cloud.

The selection was a declaration of the jury's philosophy concerning the Titanium award itself—that the prize should be for the biggest, newest idea, not necessarily for an integrated campaign. Lubars said the selection was intended "to return the award to its original charter, which is to award something we have never seen before."

The Titanium Lion was created by Dan Wieden in 2003 to recognize work that broke through traditional awards category boundaries and represented creative innovation. Lubars noted that as of last year, the prize had become a citation for integrated campaigns. "As good as the integrated campaigns were this year, that's the state of the art now, it's not a new thing" said Lubars.

Lubars cited the LynxJet, Axe Gamekillers and Burger King campaigns as those that stood out among the integrated entries but he also said that many of the campaigns entered "drafted off of what was done last year." Lubars also noted that more than half of the 202 titanium entries were not integrated campaigns.

Design Barcode proved a controversial choice for many in attendance at the Saturday morning Titanium press conference, some voicing concern about the fluid definition of the Titanium award and the lack of recognition for integrated advertising campaigns. Lubars said the jury has recommended to festival head Terry Savage that the Cannes festival launch a separate category for integrated work.

But for the jury, Design Barcode emerged early on as the clear winner. "There was amazing clarity on this jury," said juror Chuck Porter, chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky. "It was a no brainer."

"Our industry has banged on about ideas being important and about intellectual property issues for some time," said juror Craig Davis, worldwide creative director of JWT. "This idea is trademarked, it's proprietary, it speaks to many of the issues we've been talking about." Scott Goodson, creative director at Strawberry Frog said the winner represented "an agency owning something that brands around the world will pay for."

In acknowledging an idea like Design Barcode, says Lubars, the jury was "walking it like we talk it."

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