The Cannes Lions conference is a massive event, giving such big names as Google and Wired a place to showcase their latest innovations. However, conference organizers fell down on the job in one area: app judging.
I SEA, an app that claimed to assist refugees floating around in the Mediterranean, was awarded a Bronze medal Monday night at Cannes. However, the app was revealed to be fraudulent and has since been removed from Apple’s App Store. Instead of showing weather in the southeast Mediterranean, it shows weather in western Libya. Instead of showing real-time satellite images, it shows an unchanging one.
The app came from a reputable source, Singapore’s Grey Group, which is part of WPP, so it surely is getting serious review within that organization to figure out what happened. Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) had been providing help to the app and now says that it was “dismayed to discover that real-time images were not being used,” The Guardian reports. MOAS has discontinued its relationship with Grey.
When the app launched, Grey executive creative director Low Jun Jek presented it as a fully functional app. “The app uses an algorithm that divides the satellite images of the sea into thousands of smaller plots,” he told Wired. “Each of these plots is then sent or assigned to different users so they can view the plot through the app. The user will receive a notification on their phone that will prompt them to check their plot—a simple task that will take no more than one minute at most.”
The fraud was figured out by an organization called SecuriTay—but only after it got plenty of media coverage, Digital Arts Online notes. It remains to be seen how an app that was configured to prevent just about from going past the login screen actually won an award. Someone at Cannes Lions might want to go hide out on a boat.