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: 11/17/2022

    Local artists now have their own retail holiday

    My first thought, despite being married to an artist and good friends with many more, was "another special shopping day?" The clutter of special days is becoming quite a problem. I don't think we are on Oprah, where she would be saying "...and you get a special day... and you get a special day..." Not all ideas like this will work out.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2022

    Will a strike on ‘Red Cup Day’ get Starbucks to change its anti-union tune?

    Starbucks and the union both need to take care. Customer satisfaction can be hurt by these efforts - and it's not clear whether the company or the union would get consumer blame. We are all a bit tired of slowdowns after the pandemic and with the Great Resignation.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2022

    What price will Target and other retailers pay for their holiday sales promotions?

    I expect consumers would like a "normal" holiday season according to whatever their individual sense of that would be. So I also suspect it's too early yet for retailers to panic and start too many promotional activities.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    What does it take to build a positive corporate culture?

    I do think corporations have lost their purpose. Unfortunately, my experience is that the best cultures are focused on doing business well and within your category -- not on vague ideas like "fulfilling life." We need to return our industry and category to the core of purpose. MBA programs, in their zeal to drive shareholder value, destroyed company connections with the real and specific values of categories. This was driven by compensation programs which focused on short term money games which actually hurt long term shareholder value - but executives got some very nice compensation doing it. I'm not so much a fan of Ms. Salmon's theory of culture. The best cultures build by doing the right things for customers.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    Will two digital-first concepts prove more successful than one for Panera Bread?

    My question for Panera is whether there is growth opportunity using this approach. We now see clearly in retail that much of the digital hype was only hype - not an opportunity for growth. There is serious risk that Panera is spending all this money on a loyalty program for some customers without either increasing their purchases or bringing in new ones.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    Retailers have scaled way back on seasonal help for Christmas

    This seems like a smart move by retailers. When a shakeup like the pandemic happens, it's worth using the opportunity it provides to change habits. In recent years, pre-holiday hiring seemed to have become more a competitive fest attempting to look more vibrant than anyone else. This just seems like a return to good business.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Will retailers use facial recognition tech to reshape store layouts?

    This sounds incredibly silly. Studies of facial recognition AI show that it is highly inaccurate for interpreting emotions.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    The stigma around secondhand gifting is fading away

    In my family we've often given secondhand gifts, and have learned there's a trick. What the survey misses is that the key to these gifts being meaningful to the receiver is that their secondhand nature has to add value. Is it a hard-to-find item! Is it an item no longer made but which is better than the new ones available? There are a lot of positive values to be found in secondhand items other than "I bought it because it was cheap."
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Gap is now selling on Amazon. Desperation or genius move?

    While this isn't a desperation move, it's not a move of strength for Gap. Certainly it is more evidence of strategic wandering as they attempt to rebuild strength they've been missing for years. My hope is that they won't be hurt too badly by making this move.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Is it time to shut down the free returns party?

    Free returns have always been too costly. So it is good to see retailers now confronting the challenge. This is more critical now that it's clear that most retailers aren't going to grow through online sales. So while online sales are required, retailers shouldn't be paying customers to take their goods that way.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2022

    The new boss is the same as the old boss at Bed Bath & Beyond

    Bed Bath & Beyond has done some things right. And yet, no one knows of them. They can continue to shuffle and shift — to rearrange the deck chairs in their store and assortment, in their mix of private and national brands, in their approaches. But that does not arrive at success. Unless they tell the world they've changed and maintain a consistent campaign doing that, executing the changes, and delivering value, customers still won't come to the store. Yes. They have a problem which desperately needs advertising. And that takes real risk — because everything else has the appearance of "control" yet advertising is tricky. They'll need an exceptional team focused on their store as a product (itself) for that advertising to do any good — and those teams are quite rare.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    Does Krispy Kreme fill a hole in McDonald’s menu?

    This seems like a bad idea. The Krispy Kreme brand is so distinctive on its own that it clutters and confuses the similarly strong McDonald's brand. I'm disappointed with Mickey D's -- they are usually wiser than this.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    BOPIS substitution processes need work

    I think the critical question here is, can retailers improve out-of-stock substitutions? This is a miserably difficult process. Ideally, the customer wants full control. Yet the customer also doesn't want to have to be available. So I don't think a text or call approach will improve anything. At core, the problem is that online inventory and grocery just don't work - certainly not unless there's an investment of far more money than BOPIS justifies. Perhaps one good option would be to refuse to substitute anything and send the customer, just before pickup, a list of what they won't be getting. Clean and simple, direct and puts control in customer hands. Perhaps another option is to have two or three approaches (we substitute for you, we text you and you have two minutes to reply, or we do no substitutes and supply you a list). One key to remember is that while offering customer choice seems good, it often leads to higher dissatisfaction. So tremendous care needs to be taken.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2022

    Uber Eats puts weed delivery on the menu

    Weed or no weed, the question remains: is there a serious long term market for delivery or will it fade into the sunset as the pandemic fades into memory? I expect the latter. And weed won't be able to keep it from happening.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2022

    Does Lululemon need a teen strategy?

    Shifting communication and inventory to satisfy a new audience is always a risk. Lululemon especially needs to question how they'd have to gain from that strategy. Truth could well be that they've obtained a huge share of what's possible already and any overt change would be chasing small gains.

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