Creative chief behind the infamous I Sea app, Ali Shabaz, joins Leo Burnett Indonesia as CCO

Ali Shabaz has returned to the Asia region as chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Indonesia. It is believed he will be responsible for the creative product of the entire Publicis Groupe in the country. 

Shabaz was chief creative officer at Grey South East Asia at the time when Grey for Good, a division of the agency came up with the infamous I Sea app idea. The app purported to help save refugees by tracking their boats in real time in the Mediterranean, but actually did none of those things.

After the app was outed as being dysfunctional, the resulting scandal saw Grey reluctantly return a Bronze trophy it won at the Cannes Lions, blaming “the unwarranted, unfair, unrelenting attacks by unnamed bloggers”. The agency also pulled the entry out of the Ad Stars awards show in Korea, where it had been shortlisted.

Shabaz shifted out of Grey South East Asia in early 2017, several months after the controversy. There was widespread speculation at the time over whether his exit had anything to do with the I Sea scandal or was entirely disconnected from it.

He went on to become chief creative officer at Grey Middle East and North Africa and was in the role for a little over two years. Shabaz spent a few months as chief creative officer at Rapp Middle East and North Africa before taking up the Leo Burnett Indonesia assignment. 


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