Amnesia boss Iain McDonald: Hot or Cold agency ranking is old world and negative

The founder of Amnesia Razorfish has gone public to explain why the agency declined to take part in a ranking of Australia’s most creative digital agencies.  

Writing on the Amnesia Razorfish blog, McDonald said he was doing so to put the record straight.

His comments came after a ranking was published by Bannerblog based on methodology created by Campaign Brief’s Hot or Cold listing of traditional agencies. As Mumbrella reported on Wednesday, Soap scored top with a mark of 79% while Hyro was bottom with 21%.

Amnesia – one of Australia’s best known and largest digital agencies – was one of five that declined to be rated.

In his posting McDonald said the agency stayed out because he did not approve of a format that not only celebrates successes but publicises the failures.

He said he had three reasons:

  1. “Don’t make others feel bad. These kind of rankings are not like normal awards which only celebrate excellence. The format… allows a select few agencies to feel really good about themselves at the expense of many other hard working agencies who don’t tally up.”
  2. “It’s not just about creative. To assert Hot or Cold is somehow an audit of the digital landscape is grossly misleading when great digital specialists in Search, Strategy, Media, Social, Analytics or agencies who provide more than just creative aren’t included.”
  3. “I view Hot or Cold as ‘part of the old world of advertising’, not the new one. We don’t need to inherit the old ways. Sure, Hot or Cold makes an interesting headline and gets people talking but for me it’s too shallow, and creates unnecessary tension between agencies.”

McDonald stressed that he wasn’t advocating an industry boycott of the ranking. He said: “The agencies that like it, want it and agree with it should of course be allowed to continue. The ones that don’t should be allowed to abstain without question.”

However, he added that he was coming under pressure to participate in the next survey. He said:

“Unfortunately there are forces who want to force us to participate in the future. This has been accompanied by a thinly veiled threat that Amnesia will be judged and plotted on a table even if the judges do not have any real view or knowledge of its creative output. I hope it does not come down to that.”

Update: Bannerblog’s Ashley Ringrose told Mumbrella that there had been no threat, only a “heads-up” that next time the agencies will be judged regardless of whether they participated in the process.

He said: “I don’t want to put people/agencies down, I wanted the list to celebrate who is doing good work and not just by the top agencies.

“I’d feel bad if I was in that cold area but I’d also be saying ‘man I gotta pull my finger out and do better work’.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.