PROFILE

Doug Garnett

Founder & CEO, Atomic Direct
Doug Garnett is an expert introducing innovative products at retail — especially using TV. His career has been spent in innovation and he is the founder and CEO of ad agency Atomic Direct. Atomic leverages TV in its full form across all ranges of broadcast, cable, web, in-store, and direct mail video. Atomic’s work covers a wide range of products, but they are particular specialists with hardware and home products.

In addition, Doug is an adjunct professor of general advertising at Portland State University. He writes and speaks regularly to share his vision of how brand clients can leverage the power of innovative products. He is a member of the Response Magazine advisory board, author of the book "Building Brands with Direct Response Television," and can be followed on Twitter @AtomicAdMan.

Doug's experience with innovation started at aerospace giant General Dynamics where he worked on the Atlas-Centaur launch vehicles, the Space Shuttle, and the Tomahawk Cruise Missile program. He shifted to marketing while selling supercomputers before finding his true home — in advertising for retail products. Clients include Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, Rubbermaid, AT&T, DisneyMobile, AAA of California, Professional Tool Manufacturing (Drill Doctor), Kreg Tools, P&G, Apple Computer, Sears, Braun, DuPont (Teflon, Stainmaster), and Hamilton Beach.
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  • Posted on: 10/19/2017

    Amazon’s Prime membership grows to 90 million in U.S.

    Prime is obviously a great success in recruiting new people to the program and retaining loyalty. Since the other comments here are solidly positive, I'll offer cautionary notes. The cautions are real -- what's not clear is how much of a problem they are and only time will tell.While Amazon investors have been willing to subsidize the cost of doing business via Prime they've created future problems. Amazon still fights the problem that ecom selling is very expensive -- and Prime only makes it more expensive. When investors demand that Amazon deliver profit from retail-like sales, Prime will shift from opportunity to problem.Prime also raises consumer expectations for service levels via ecom that are unprofitable. That is damaging to the entire retail economy as well as to Amazon (at some point).I'm also skeptical of Amazon's investment in additional Prime services. Amazon PR constantly hypes video. Yet the viewership numbers appear to be quite low -- with Prime viewing below 5% of streaming compared with Netflix at 45%.It's not that Prime is bad. Rather the program deserves reasonable caution from retail analysts -- caution we don't often see.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Online and Amazon to grow more dominant over the next decade

    I'm always cautious about these kinds of predictions. Business history shows that they are always wrong -- what's not known is exactly how they will be wrong.More concerning is the suggestions that Amazon will account for half of online sales. This wouldn't be surprising -- the internet tends toward monopoly because of the incredibly high cost to establish and maintain advantage.This follows the online advertising trend: Google and Facebook account for 80 percent of advertising dollars online. And there's the new Scott Galloway book about the four (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) that dominate the web.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Should the holiday selling season be retired?

    We're told this is the age when consumers are in control. And that means there will always be a holiday selling season as well as a spring yard season, Mother's Day, back-to-school and more.Of course retailers would love to have identical, highly-profitable sales every month of the year. But consumers aren't going to be re-invented to make that happen.The only valid question is whether retailers can reduce their dependence on the holiday feeding frenzy or reduce the degree to which they encourage it.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    Will lessons learned at Amazon Books translate to Whole Foods?

    Amazon will, of course, apply lessons it's learned at its bookstores to Whole Foods. And let's hope they apply Whole Foods' lessons at the bookstore. And lessons from both to their online business.But I'm quite skeptical of their PR suggestions that they're transferring tremendous learning from online to the bookstore. That's the story that Amazon must tell investors regardless of how true it is. Yet the net out of what they're claiming turns out to be putting the same books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. And a far more interesting mix of books is found at independents — making them better places to shop.My yardstick is this: We need to hear stories that surprise us before we can know Amazon is sharing real learned truths. So far, it's all been quite expected, so I don't think we're hearing much of significance.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    Should Coach Inc. have changed its name?

    They made a good decision changing the corporate name. Legacy names around brands run into problems. The Disney "corporation" has hurt the Disney family entertainment name by releasing movies that violate the family sensibility yet come under a "Disney" name.The problem here is that Coach botched the announcement -- leading most headlines to suggest the Coach product/store brand was changing to "Tapestry." This change should have been discussed only with a Wall Street investor/retail buyer audience.The right execution could have made that happen.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Are retailers shortchanging the digital transformation?

    Thoroughly agree, Mark. In fact, I found this line — "95 percent of the growth in retail is expected to come from digital (e-commerce + digitally influenced)" — needs some serious questioning.There's no way that we can imagine "digitally influenced" is the primary driver of that growth. Rather, digital influence on the purchase is important. And in these numbers it looks to me that "digitally influenced" is the lions share of the growth.So... That really leads right back to your point about physical stores and finding solutions within their traditional businesses.Imprecise statement of numbers like these is a very destructive problem within the retail sector right now. We need clear thinking — not numbers that attempt to dress up fuzzy thinking to make it appear precise.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2017

    How can retail stores open doors to higher quality applicants?

    Distant management policies may hit cost savings metrics, but Cathy is right on that they demotivate associates - and that makes it harder to find good new ones.Stores make it blatantly obvious to associates that they're shaving benefits. Like scheduling 5:45 shifts so they don't have to give lunches (required in a 6 hour shift). Or slotting in schedules at 39.5 hours to avoid hitting full time.People detect these games. And while they might have other benefits from the work and the pay, policies can hurt employee loyalty.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2017

    What marketing lessons can we learn from Amazon?

    Amazon has made itself a great place to buy product when you know what you want. So it starts with product.And we need to remember that the product "P" is about product strategy -- different competitors choose different strategies. The successful Amazon strategy is necessarily different from, say, Walmart's strategy. Or the Home Depot/Lowe's strategy for product.Whereas Amazon is a great place to buy, competitors can succeed by being great places to shop for products.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Is Ace on-brand with The Grommet acquisition?

    Innovative products are key to long-term brick-and-mortar success and an excellent advantage over Amazon (where innovative products get lost). So this makes sense for Ace in many ways.Yet leveraging innovation for brick-and-mortar strength requires two things: First, finding and stocking the innovations. But more critically, advertising the innovations -- because shoppers need to be told they are there and why the innovation makes sense. Ace has struggled with advertising the innovations in their stores since each store owner is an independent. As a result, Ace hasn't been able to leverage large enough orders from manufacturers/brands to make advertising part of a major campaign.It's also concerning that many of the products on The Grommet are tangential to Ace's customer base -- to the reason people go to Ace stores.An interesting step for Ace. Turning it into a long-term success faces some serious challenges.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    Are retailers confusing customer service with the customer experience?

    This is a problem. And I concur with much of the discussion above.But let me suggest another reason for the mistake: Too much focus on metrics.Metrics skew what happens in the store. So, the metrics used and the reward system built around metrics determines what happens in the store — although sometimes making the store experience worse.Today, there's massive over-emphasis on customer surveys. My sense is it's far easier to detect customer service errors than to measure excellent customer experience. But in our zeal to use measurements for management, we have used what we can measure and put too much emphasis on those measurements.Customer experience shows up in more store visits, more tendency to think of your store as a destination, and higher purchases per store visit. But those numbers are difficult to tease out in a busy environment. Hence, the fall back on customer service surveys which demotivate store associates and often discourage excellent customer experiences.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    What does all the noise around Amazon’s ‘Seller Flex’ program mean?

    When I've had problems with third-party sellers of goods on Amazon, it's not been shipping problems -- but internal fulfillment of goods or errors in their Amazon listings. At the risk of being a focus group of one, that makes it hard for me to imagine this service will do much to improve the third-party experience.Making it even harder to imagine, when I look at the variety of small third-party sellers I've used, I can't imagine Amazon's service being available to any but the largest third-party sellers in the largest metro areas.They clearly got analyst attention. Yet this announcement seems to be closer to their drone announcement (lots of headlines, little substance) than their Whole Foods purchase.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Can e-tailers use ‘digital body language’ to convert shoppers?

    This thinking started on the right track -- last-click attribution can be incredibly misleading. Following those metrics leads to shifting marketing dollars entirely to final purchase -- a well known way to destroy your brand.But I disagree about trying to read the tea leaves of digital behavior. Behavior-based analysis has severe limits and it's time we recognized that.Here's a blog post I've written about this topic -- noting that observed behavior always misses important things. And trying to infer big conclusions from smaller and smaller actions is a dead end: Reading the Fossil Record: Why Data & Machine Learning Tell Us Less Than We Think.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Thrive Market co-founder: ‘Data and storytelling go hand in hand’

    My sense is that Thrive has benefitted from their choice of an area where storytelling about ingredients and the like can matter. Where I'd be exceptionally careful is trying to take this narrowly cast example and move it to another company, other food products, or to retail in general.As an ad guy, the "storytelling industry" hasn't proven to be very good at returning solid results.Why doesn't the storytelling industry drive great results? What is a story? The term storytelling is quite misleading. Do consumers want you to have a reason to be that matters to them? Absolutely. Do they want you to sell products that matter to them? Absolutely. Do stories make a significant difference to consumers? Sometimes -- not often.Stories more often lead to belabored, long things that consumers turn away from in droves. The "story" that is useful to consumers might be worth one 15 second viewing, but I see a lot of people drag it out to 3 minutes and repeat it in every medium.Having spent a couple of decades delivering highly successful retail-driving full 30 minute ads and having done extensive research with consumers on long ads, what we learned is they really don't want your stories. They want what matters to them.So keep an idea of your story in mind. Let it be part of your advertising. But you'll generally find far better impact with the storytelling in the background -- it's not your featured message.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Has Amazon really saved Whole Foods from its ‘Whole Paycheck’ trap?

    I'm quite skeptical of the press Amazon has received here. Looking for balance, The Washington Post (owned by Bezos) just this week reported that the price drops are pretty minor.Once again, Amazon has leveraged its ability to have a sneeze reported in 100 point type to make a statement. And they've done it brilliantly -- smartly leveraging their ability to get headlines to try to build the Whole Foods business.What about Whole Paycheck? Amazon may be able to make a significant change but not in just a few weeks. We need to hold this question and look at it again in a few years. Then we'll be able to see if the change is substantive and long term or just some sweet headlines that brought more shoppers into their stores.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2017

    Could retail workers benefit from implanted microchips?

    My son is working on the retail floor these days. And I cannot imagine a worse idea for the retail worker. So in what universe can this be seen as a benefit to the worker? (And the privacy issues are so obvious I don't think I need to detail them.)That some managers might want it isn't a surprise. In his world at one of the better managed retailers we still discuss absurdities asked of employees on a weekly basis.A far better answer is to invest in giving the floor helpful devices that deliver value to them -- help them be more effective and alleviate headaches and hassles.

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