Cannes-winning Grey Singapore app to save refugees called out as fake

Grey gives back award for I Sea app

An app that won a bronze at Cannes this week has been found to be fake by internet users that interrogated the technology, resulting in Apple removing it from the app store.

The ‘I SEA’ app by Grey Singapore’s Grey for Good arm, in collaboration with Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), claimed to help locate potential refugee boats by sending user's of the app information and images to feedback on.

According to reports, the app is currently sending the same image to users and the weather information isn’t real and is being used to “trick” users into thinking it is live. Gawker reports a string of developers that have found errors within the app that renders it fake.

Grey Singapore wrote a blog post this week, which said that the app was in testing and reiterated that the functions were still in beta and not in real-time.

“The I SEA App is currently in a testing mode. At this time it is loading and mapping satellite images to its GPS coordinates and users are able to report an anomaly in their plot of sea. The report function is sending out an alert whenever a user flags something in the plot of sea they are watching. During this testing period, the satellite images available are not in real-time. Grey for Good are still working to optimise the technology, but we are proud of what we have achieved so far and are grateful to all those who have shown interest in helping to improve the app further. The continued interest and suggestions from people who have already tried it around the world, especially on this, World Refugee Day, are all valued opinions which will be incorporated into the final product,” read the post.

The news is unlikely to do the APAC region any favours in terms of a reputation that has been sullied with scam and fake work during awards season, a topic The Drum asked top creatives about earlier this year. A key defense for why scam work occurs is that creativity for commercial clients can be restricted. For this reason, The Drum has an awards dedicated to unrestricted creativity titled The Chip Shop Awards.

The Drum has approached Grey Singapore for comment but had no response at the time of publication.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte