Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, adtech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

Rory Heffernan: national managing director at Atomic 212°

Time in current role/time at the company:

Two years as managing director, and approaching 14 years at Atomic 212°.

How would you describe what the company does?

We pair the smartest people in the industry with ambitious clients and brands to deliver smarter, faster, more accountable media.

What do you do day-to-day?

I lead the development of the Atomic 212° product, from strategy through to performance and measurement, meaning I work closely with our incredible leadership team to solve challenges and briefs for our clients. It also means I am always trying to create the best possible experience for the 160 people who work for Atomic 212°. I think we’ve always provided an amazing amount of opportunity and innovation for our people, and I want that to continue as we grow.

Define your job in one word:


I got into communications because:

After a pretty wide range of early experience and studies in history, film making and music production, I got started in SEO and paid search. I loved the immediacy and demonstrable impact it has for clients, which is something that still drives me (and Atomic 212°) to this day.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Balancing what’s needed now, with what will be needed tomorrow.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?

For me, the measurement challenge (or opportunity) is the most exciting. Whether that’s putting an ROI on media spend, or a big idea, or a new creative execution – we’re putting a lot of effort into developing solutions to support our clients in this space.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:

Pretty much all of my industry experience has been at Atomic 212°! I have worn many hats here: my first gig was making a (ridiculous) promotional video, before getting into SEO, digital media and now running the joint!

Notable campaigns you have worked on:

We’ve worked on a lot of great campaigns, but I get the most pride out of delivering ongoing strategic support and results to clients, old and new. There’s no shortage of great strategic challenges within our portfolio at the moment, for example, we’re incredibly excited to continue to grow BMW and MINI’s reputation as leaders in EV.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?

James Dixon (chief digital officer and partner at Atomic 212°) has been a great influence on me from day one. He’s instilled an amazing entrepreneurial culture within the business. With the growth we’ve had, there’s a huge amount of self-belief in Atomic 212° – I genuinely believe we have the best people and product in the industry – and James has helped foster that from the beginning.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?

Be a good listener. Don’t shy away from trying new things.

If I wasn’t doing this for a living, I’d be:

At home with the kids, endlessly cleaning.

My philosophy is:

Work-wise, it’s work hard, listen, and don’t be fluffy.

My favourite advert is:

Can’t help but hark back to the glory years of Australian TV when people used to quote TV commercials, like ‘Not happy Jan’. When I was 10, this Foot Locker ad was on TV, and for some reason it was a big hit in our house… so much so that my stepdad still quotes it to this day: https://archive.org/details/1996-commercial-for-athletes-foot.

Looking back, I’m not sure I’d call it my favourite now, BUT advertisers could do a lot worse than aiming for something funny that will stick in their audience’s heads (for almost 30 years!) Other 1990s classics that come to mind are the Toyota RAV4 ‘Camels’ commercials and the Holden Commodore SS ute doing burnouts in the outback to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck!

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?

Pretty much everything: music is a great calming force in my life (thank you Neil Young, Kurt Vile and Dinosaur Jr) and we’ve got most of the video streamers which are mainly utilised by my four-year-old daughter for Gabby’s Dollhouse and Bluey.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

When I was about 12, I was a terrible rugby league player as an awkward pre-teen who couldn’t tackle. One day I worked up the courage, put on an absolute SHOT, got sent off by the referee and booed by the opposing crowd. But Stuey (our coach) said it was the best tackle he’d ever seen and that I had a “heart as big as Phar Lap”. Shout out to Stuey; he knew the value of having a crack even if it doesn’t come off the way you planned.

In five years’ time I’ll be:

I’m more of an “in the moment” kind of guy.

Article originally published on AdNews