Doug Garnett

President, Protonik

Doug Garnett has spent his career with innovation and is an expert on using marketing to increase ROI for ground breaking consumer products distributed through online and retail outlets. Doug is the founder and President of Protonik, LLC — a consultancy focused on the unusual marketing needs of innovative products and services. Protonik works with manufacturers, brands, inventors, and retailers.

Prior to forming Protonik, Doug spent 20 years as founder and CEO of ad agency Atomic Direct. Atomic leveraged TV across all ranges of broadcast, cable and web to drive sales. Atomic’s work covered a wide range of products, but had particularly specialty with home, hardware and automotive products.

Doug taught for 13 years in the business school at Portland State University. He writes and speaks regularly about the unique challenges facing companies when they attempt to use innovative products to create demand and build brand. In addition to his role with the RetailWire BrainTrust, he is a member of the BWG Advisory board, the Response Magazine advisory board, author of the book “Building Brands with Direct Response Television,” and can be followed on Twitter @AtomicAdMan.

Doug started as a mathematician at aerospace giant General Dynamics where he worked on the Atlas-Centaur launch vehicles, the Space Shuttle, and the Tomahawk Cruise Missile program. He spent 5 years in marketing and sales of scientific supercomputers before finding his true home — in advertising for retail products. Doug has worked with Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, Rubbermaid, AT&T, DisneyMobile, AAA of California, The Joint Chiropractic, Professional Tool Manufacturing (Drill Doctor), Kreg Tools, P&G, Apple Computer, Sears, Braun, DuPont (Teflon, Stainmaster), and Hamilton Beach.

  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Are immersive technologies ready to build online buying trust?

    What percentage of shoppers is it possible to influence through these technologies? Entirely unknown. This study went to people who have adopted a technology and found -- that they like the technology. It doesn’t mean anything for total retail, so retailers should treat this data carefully.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Amazon will pay you to know what you bought somewhere else

    My first reaction is that Amazon’s morph into Green Stamps takes another step forward. Certainly some people will do this — but I won’t and I don’t know anyone who will. Does this data have much value? No. We already know how mis-leading shopper data is. Why is it that all the ads I’m fed are for things I already bought or for things I considered briefly and rejected? Another magician’s headline from Amazon. But there’s really nothing here.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    Will Whole Foods draw more Prime shoppers with one-hour curbside pickup?

    The world is so cluttered with various “Prime” programs I can’t see this as anything significant. In part, Amazon needs to worry about how the older idea of being “special” with a Prime membership is so quickly decaying into a green stamp book of “rewards” — but without a good catalog for guidance.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    COVID-19 Essentials is a startup designed to end with the pandemic

    As a stand-alone store, this idea is a “gimmick” — meaning short lived and quickly forgotten. That doesn’t mean they can’t make some decent quick profits. Rather, they’ll never build the respect of a brand. On the other hand, building specialty stores within a store makes complete sense because that store doesn’t have to be entirely profitable — it adds to the brand experience and draws new consumers in.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    Will Lowe’s customers ‘gift’ their homes for the holidays?

    This is an interesting idea which builds on Lowe’s existing strengths in how their brand is seen. I would be cautious about the depth of this jump, though. An air hockey table is reasonable against the idea of Lowe’s — bedding isn’t. That said, I wish Lowe’s well with this. It’s rare to see a move this surprising which also mostly makes sense.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will Panera’s climate-friendly labels spur sales?

    While we must sort out good ways for society to respond to climate change, this seems gratuitous. Within six months my bet is that Panera customers won’t know why the labels are there — and initially only a tiny few will know anyway. The promotion is part of my concern. This is a serious action — why does the label look cartoonish? It seems out of sync with the goal of the move and with the best ways to communicate what they are doing. In other words, I expect this will be a gimmick soon lost in confusion.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Albertsons offers a new refrigerated take on store pickup

    Albertsons runs a big risk here — of building an infrastructure for the pandemic which will be wasted after. The beauty of delivery to the customer's car is that the infrastructure required is primarily staff — so it can expand and contract according to demand. Lockers won’t.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will virtual recruiting and onboarding hurt seasonal hiring?

    Virtual recruiting and on-boarding is a requirement during the pandemic. But having taught a number of university courses through virtual, I find the idea that it’s a benefit to be quite a stretch. Yes we need to do what’s right in this environment. But establishing more distance from the need for a recruiter to make a gut level choice? That’s not a good thing for the long term. (Hiring software and resume filtering has already created hidden problems for companies of all sorts. Let’s not make those worse.)
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Retailers need to prep for in-store COVID conflicts

    No front-line associate should have to be alone when dealing with this. All associates need a panic button to call managers in the event of this type of conflict. While the risk of a truly crazy anti-masker is low, we have already seen that it takes just one confrontation to be fatal.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Should local book stores be taking on Amazon?

    Yes, they should be taking on Amazon. Amazon is a poor place to shop for books although it’s a simple place to buy. But I agree with Neil Saunders. Negative campaigning isn’t a great idea. They need to be promoting all the reasons to keep buying at the independent bookseller — and there are a lot of customer values where Amazon is really quite miserable. This is not unusual, in my experience, from a trade organization without significant experience with ad campaigns. Even when the 4A advertisers decide to promote using ad agencies they generally do quite poor campaigns.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Has Shein reinvented teen e-tailing?

    If Amazon is the "brand" they’re displacing, the competition isn’t too stiff. And I’m intrigued that the other brands (e.g. Lululemon) aren’t exactly teen brands. It’s entirely possible that teens are bored without their retail stores open — so Shein has a near term opening and are using it. Whether Shein has a workable business? I think that remains to be seen.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Are employees or execs holding back data-driven cultures?

    Perhaps the resistance is wise - that means employees and C-suite executives all see what data teams may not: Data most often discovers things of small importance at great cost to the organization. The juice is often not worth the squeeze.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2020

    Are Amazon Prime delivery shoppers disrupting Whole Foods’ stores?

    No surprises that it's a problem at Whole Foods — where shopping environment is even more critical than most stores. The problem has hurt the shopping experience at our local Kroger's owned stores — especially because the Kroger employees doing the shopping have huge carts which block aisles and shelves. Were this shopping behavior to continue in high quantities past the pandemic, stores would have to sort out some way to create a peaceful co-existence. And I certainly haven't seen anyone who has figured it out entirely within their employees — much less with Instacart or other deliver services.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2020

    Retailers and brands shortchange cross-platform analytics tools

    My concern is that retailers are constantly directed to spend vast sums of money integrating data in the hope that something will be discovered. What we rarely see are any examples of those efforts turning a sweet profit. My recommendation to retailers: Before every additional tech investment, take a hard look at whether it has the likelihood of turning a profit. If not, there have to be extremely critical survival reasons to spend the money and usually there aren’t.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2020

    Are Amazon’s flying security drones a threat to homeowner privacy?

    I agree with the privacy concerns. Yet I have an even more fundamental business concern: Why? It looks like Ring has done what too many have done in home technology. They have created something because they could — not because they should. Where is the added value for the customer? I just don’t see it. Certainly some “gee whiz” tech geeks will love it and that’s nice. But it’s also a tiny market. We need to stay focused on market reasons for products to thrive — not tech reasons to get headlines.

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