#Asia Citing ‘unwarranted’ backlash, Grey returns Cannes award won for I Sea app


Developed by Singapore’s Grey for Good, I Sea was called a hoax by Wired and was the subject of a viral LinkedIn post

Refugee FINAL (1)

The global advertising company, Grey, announced today that it will be returning the Cannes Bronze Lion award it won for its app ‘I Sea’ because of the “the unwarranted, unfair, unrelenting attacks by unnamed bloggers” after it was revealed the product was misleading.

I Sea was created by the Singaporean philanthropic arm called ‘Grey for Good’. It was pitched as a crowdsourcing platform to empower people across the world to search for boats in the mediterranean and help officials protect migrants making the dangerous journey in the hopes of finding asylum in Europe.

As detailed by e27 in late-June, the app was discovered by Daily Dot to be ineffective and winning the Cannes award came off as manipulative (or, as described by Wired, a ‘Hoax’).

Grey initially stood behind the app, explaining it was in ‘testing mode’, but the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (Grey’s partner in the project) distanced itself from the company almost immediately.

The statement explaining why the award was being returned, released overnight by Grey Chief Communications Director Owen Dougherty, was not so much of an apology as a fervent defense of Grey for Good’s reputation (and that of the global Grey brand).

He has every right to defend the company for which he works, and in this case he pulled no punches.

Also Read: The debacle surrounding Singapore’s ‘I Sea’ exemplifies a problem in tech media

Dougherty defended Grey for Good as a “a highly respected philanthropic unit that has helped numerous non-profit organizations,” and said, “We won over 90 Cannes Lions this year alone so there is no need for scam projects”.

Elaborating as to why Grey is returning the award, Doughtery said,

“However, given the unwarranted, unfair, unrelenting attacks by unnamed bloggers, we are putting an end to this and returning the Bronze Lion so there is not even the hint of impropriety or a question of our integrity.

He concluded with a final shot.

“The saying no good deed goes unpunished is apt in this case.”

The ‘unnamed bloggers’ referred to by Doughtery probably included Ali Bullock, an advertising executive for Infiniti Motors based in Hong Kong. His scathing LinkedIn post, in which he outlined why he would never hire Grey as an agency went viral because it held the company’s feet to the fire.

Bullock asked readers to take a long, hard look at a photo of a child who had drowned while making the perilous journey before writing,

“And Grey won an award off the back of this. Did the champagne and caviar have a salty taste as you celebrated your win? Imagine the salt consumed by people drowning… A truly horrid way to die. And how many died while you partied away in Cannes? Hundreds, thousands? I guess we will never truly know as your app was a load of bulls***t. Oh wait, it was in testing… Sorry, my mistake.” 

After the award was returned Bullock said in a Tweet he would delete the post, but also lamented the temperament of the company statement in a later tweet.

And while I would never be narcissistic enough to think Dougherty was referring to myself (or even read the article), I did describe the entire project as ‘manipulative’ and would probably fall in the category of unrelenting bloggers.

Also Read: Clarification on the latest developments in Singapore’s crowdfunding regulation drive

As of publishing, the I Sea app is still being advertised on the Grey website.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The post Citing ‘unwarranted’ backlash, Grey returns Cannes award won for I Sea app appeared first on e27.

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