Doug Garnett

Founder & CEO, Atomic Direct
Doug Garnett is an expert at 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.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Will struggling retailers find new lives as pure play e-tailers?

    Good points. I wonder if they'll get a false short-term reward as they repurpose inventory -- making the economics better for a time without realizing they're false economics?
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Will struggling retailers find new lives as pure play e-tailers?

    I can't imagine any savvy retailer choosing to give up the difficult economics of brick-and-mortar to take on the bad economics of e-commerce. Perhaps there's a successful place halfway between where they are today and pure-play e-commerce but I expect it will take a considerable search to find it.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Is social media influence the new key to building brand loyalty?

    Friends and authorities have always had tremendous impact on shopping. But the question isn't whether that continues. The question is: Does an overt campaign to ratchet up intensity of what marketers deem to be "influencers" cause the natural shopping cycle to become more profitable?I think we need to be very careful here.The term "influencer" is misleading. What marketers can control is NOT the influence that friends and authorities that have always had on final decisions and on the naturally credible product recommendations.What marketers DO control are an artifice that's labelled "influencer." In my experience, some are and some aren't. And, in my experience, it's not common that profits increase from today's overt attempts to make them more productive.Consider a significant fact: What drives word of mouth about your product most effectively and cost effectively? TV advertising. NOT paid attempts to get other people to advocate for your products.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2017

    What do know-it-all shoppers want?

    I find the retail world incredibly conflicted on this topic. Everyone knows shoppers make purchase more often and spend more when they are well informed. That seems to be widely accepted.Yet that knowledge seems to only rarely turn into reality. (Disclaimer: I have skin in this game owning an agency who drives sales at retail by informing consumers.)What we've learned is that consumers don't want information -- they want to BE informed. Websites, in-store videos, and ads need to change. Learn to deliver the communication that leads to purchase. Even better, it leads to incredible profit, inventory turns, and store traffic.Yet too much in-store, website, and ad based communication is half baked, bureaucratically hyper-controlled blandness -- the kind that consumers hate. In part, our go-to communications experts (agencies) do "branding," discount in promotional ads or bombard consumers with "information."Those retailers who crack the code here succeed. Take, for example, superb local/regional hardware stores in the Ace, TruValue, and DoItBest networks. (Like McGuckins in Boulder, CO; or Parkrose in Portland, OR; or the smaller neighborhood stores.) They thrive despite big box competition because, in part, their staff inform shoppers.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2017

    Are Amazon’s boxes prime ad real estate?

    In my teaching, I forced my students to write about advertising topics. And over two decades, at least half were about advertising on "valuable real estate" like Amazon boxes. I read breathless hype about airplane seat backs, gas pumps, tunnel walls for subways -- the list is massive.Two decades chasing those opportunities teaches us that advertising everywhere primarily trains consumers to tune out messages. So if Amazon keeps these deals rare, then they can keep a freshness and still be worth it. But if Amazon does this regularly we will ignore the Amazon boxes as easily as we ignore the other advertising wallpaper in our lives.Revlon has an opportunity here because the box is still a fresh idea (although the campaign description indicates a brand lost in the theory of purpose). That freshness will wear off and the Amazon box will no longer be valuable.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2017

    How will AmazonFresh Pickup stores affect the grocery business?

    Amazon continues its evolution into brick and mortar. They're able to mask it here with the idea of online ordering. But they're wily PR folks. This gives them stores. And we could start placing bets on when this effort turns into stores -- and accelerates what they started with bookstores.This is key to Amazon's future. At this point, they are only profitable because of cloud services -- and they appear to be losing money on every retail-equivalent sale. Bricks are their only path to what Wall Street wants -- that the bulk of their revenue return profit.A brick is still a brick. But I'll give them kudos. Efforts like this may create opportunity for them to arrive at bricks with new approaches.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2017

    Will AI transform retail marketing?

    AI experts tell me that what business is calling "AI" isn't. It's simply algorithms applied to business. And they're yawning amid all the hype about AI.Can AI transform retail? No. There are places where algorithms should be used to do good things. But now that we know big data isn't going to deliver on the big promises, data people have renamed what they do AI. So remember, big data has huge potential risk (perhaps read the recent book "Weapons of Math Destruction" for examples where data analysis destroys far more than it builds).What strikes me about the stories I read promoting the AI fad is it easily becomes an excuse not to do the hard work of retail -- products, stores, logistics, inventory management, etc.So let's use data wisely. But also recognize it can only do so much -- and we are still responsible for creating our own bright retail futures.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2017

    Will being more like Home Depot work for J.C. Penney?

    Home Depot evolved into greater home goods like bathtubs and installation services from one direction -- the hardware big box store. There's no reason J.C. Penney can't do the same from the department store direction. Either is a valid starting point in extending brand within the consumer context.J.C. Penney's can succeed if they stay focused on those elements nearest their customer vision of the brand so they have a unique and distinctive position with those products/services. They should avoid a jump to full competition across hardware. They wouldn't win a head-to-head battle against Home Depot and I can't imagine their executives are even imagining such a thing.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2017

    Are Old Navy’s ads more effective sans celebrities?

    Celebrities can be a tremendous advertising advantage -- but they can also weigh down creative. Old Navy has been trying far too hard to work the celebs into their creative, leading to convoluted advertising.That said, can they do better without? I don't like the new ads either. With celebs or without, Old Navy has lost the clarity of the past with ads that reminded us why we wanted to shop at their store and offered incentive to get us there.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2017

    Are retailers ‘blind’ to digital marketing’s flaws?

    Digital is nothing more, or less, than a type of media with strengths and weaknesses. What's distracting marketers with it, though, is that it is constructed for marketers to be able to sell it within internal politics -- without serious consideration of the effect on their overall mix of media.So yes, marketers are using digital too often and to do jobs it doesn't do well. Even worse, what they won't ever know is what they are losing with digital's claim to hyper-target the "best" consumers. In fact, digital only targets those who have taken online steps that make them appear to be in the target zone. Far, far more are in the target zone but haven't taken those steps and will never see digital ads.By contrast, traditional media is always reaching a broader set of possible consumers -- creating next generations of shoppers/buyers that digital misses.Unfortunately, it takes a particularly wise marketer to avoid the seduction of the important sounding but shallow, metrics that surround digital. After all, company politics usually reward those with any metric (even if it's a misleading and erroneous metric).Fortunately, there is finally some excellent writing about the errors made with digital by the likes of Mark Ritson and Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian on Twitter) digging into where we've been misled.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2017

    Do consumers want AI and AR in their mobile apps?

    You bring up the virtual dressing room. I thoroughly agree with you.Even more, do we forget how human senses fire on all cylinders in a physical dressing room -- feeling fabric, small areas of bad fit, looking to see how clothing hangs on our unique body, and on and on?Seems to me that a virtual dressing room can add only a tiny bit over a fit chart on a website. What I want as a consumer is to really try on the clothes. Anything short of that is second best.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2017

    Do consumers want AI and AR in their mobile apps?

    Thoroughly agree.I'm quite close to some AR development work. My sense is there's very little true consumer value to be offered through it. A FEW applications might be useful. But not very many.It's useful as a corporate PR strategy but not generally a viable tool to improve customer experience in a way that increases profits. And that strategy may be important for stock price and other necessary realities facing retail. Yet that also means we shouldn't get carried away with the mythology.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2017

    Has Walmart found a digital answer for empty store shelves?

    Being able to order items not carried or available in the store gives consumers more reasons to be in the store and that's where the biggest profit comes from. So great idea.But then the CFO buries the theory with the idea of having the interface ask questions like "are you looking for a gift?" That inane comment just killed it for me. When will retail executives wake up to the failure of those prediction systems? Even Amazon, with 15 years of my purchase history in its database, can't make a decent book recommendation. Why would five simple question at Walmart be any better? Ugh.All that said, I fully agree with other comments here that this approach only matters AFTER the store is well staffed and that staff ensures the shelves are well-stocked at all times. This system won't work if they hope it makes up for poor management at the store level.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2017

    Will Dick’s Sporting Goods win by cutting SKUs?

    Good points. Seems to me Dick's has a solid theory that will sell well to market analysts. Question is whether it will improve their stores.As a shopper, I find their stores far too vendor dominated -- that makes them dull. It's also unlikely that I'll discover something surprising and interesting (the reward for shopping).It will all depend on implementation. But Dick's needs to take care. The right bit of chaos can make a store experience far more interesting.
  • Posted on: 03/02/2017

    Did Wall Street miss on Best Buy’s Q4 results?

    And their stores are far better to shop in this year. We shouldn't underestimate the power of stores that "make sense." For a while the clutter and chaos made it a place to avoid. Much better this past season.

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