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Atomic 212 CEO Jason Dooris exits agency after awards revelations

Jason Dooris, the controversial CEO of media agency Atomic 212, has left the agency.

Dooris’ departure comes two months after a Mumbrella investigation revealed that he had made a series of misleading and exaggerated claims within entries for several different industry awards.

Dooris pictured presenting at this year’s Mumbrella Asia Awards

Dooris does not have a new job to go to. Mumbrella understands that it has been some weeks since Dooris has been seen inside the agency.

Chief operating officer James Dixon confirmed the departure to Mumbrella.

The agency then issued a statement saying:

After leading more than eight years of continuous growth as the Group CEO and Founder of Atomic 212°, the business announced today that Jason Dooris is set to leave the agency he founded with childhood friend, James Dixon. Dooris plans to realise a life family goal in undertaking studies in Political Science and Terrorism at Oxford University and also to spend time with his young family.

Jason was severely injured in the Sari Club in Kuta Beach when the terrorist bomb exploded in October, 2002, killing 202 people. His best friend Michael Standring died in the firestorm that followed the massive explosion.

Dixon, Co-Founder and Chief Digital Officer, “It’s wonderful to see Jason pursue something that’s so uniquely important to him and his family. Given his personal experiences I have always admired his balanced and understanding view of the world.”

“The past eight years of Atomic has been the highlight of my career and thanks to a solid foundation, the company is very well-positioned for continued growth, expansion and success. I will really miss the team but also really look forward to learning more about a subject that is very important to me” said Dooris.

Atomic 212°, Chairman and Chief Commercial Officer, said: “I wish Jason all the best in his future endeavours.”

In December, Mumbrella revealed the results of the lengthy investigation into claims made by Dooris on behalf of Atomic 212 in a number of different awards across the region.

Mumbrella obtained Dooris’ winning entry into the “agency head of the year” category of the Campaign Asia Awards, which is run from Hong Kong. The Campaign Asia entry included several incorrect or exaggerated claims about client wins which had not occurred.

Amex had no record of working with Atomic, while Coles continues to be planned and bought by OMD

Campaign Asia has since told Mumbrella it is investigating the issue, but is yet to reveal its findings.

Mumbrella also revealed a number of questions about the agency’s 2017 victory in the AdNews Awards. In a post-awards publication celebrating the winners, AdNews had said Atomic’s “newer clients” included Westpac, Audi, Coles and Telstra. This led to concerns raised by the companies that were actually the agencies of record on these accounts.

However, hours before the results of Mumbrella’s investigation were published in December, AdNews went to press declaring that it had already investigated the issues and Atomic was in the clear.

In January, AdNews revealed that media agencies had boycotted its forthcoming awards after losing confidence in its handling of the issue. As a result, AdNews has axed its media agency categories this year. Media Federation of Australia chair Peter Horgan, who is also CEO of Omnicom Media Group, was quoted as saying: “The ball is in AdNews’ court to fix the reputation of the awards.”

A few days after publishing the original investigation, Mumbrella obtained a copy of Atomic’s entry into the independent agency of the year category of the B&T Awards, which it won in November.

In its B&T entry, Atomic had claimed that its performance in 2016 made it the first to do “the awards grand slam” of being named agency of the year by awards organisers including Mumbrella, AdNews and New York Festivals.

The incorrect agency of the year claim was part of Atomic’s winning independent agency of the year submission for the B&T Awards

But the actual agency of the year winners were Cummins & Partners for the Mumbrella Awards, The Monkeys for the AdNews Awards and Y&R New Zealand for New York Festivals.

The incorrect “grand slam” claim also appears on Atomic’s website

Claiming “the allegations are, as yet, wholly unproven”, B&T this morning said in an article on the departure of Dooris: “The entry was awarded fairly on its merits and judged by an independent and impartial panel.”

Dooris faced a series of tough questions from the Mumbrella Awards jurors

Atomic also made dubious claims in some of its shortlisted entries in last year’s Mumbrella Awards. However, growing controversy over the AdNews result meant that on the day of the live judging round last May, Dooris was asked a number of tough and direct questions by the Mumbrella Awards jurors, who were not persuaded by his answers. The agency did not win in any categories.

In a further step towards transparency for its 2018 Awards, Mumbrella announced last month that after the awards have taken place, we will publish features about each of the 30 winners, accompanied by their original entry.

Dixon (left) and O’Brien (right) remain. Dooris (centre) is out

The exit of Dooris leaves executive chairman Barry O’Brien and chief operating officer James Dixon at the helm.

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