All I Want for Christmas Is a Decent Perfume Commercial

Ash Strehle Hartman
4 min readDec 16, 2019


Also, what’s with all the horses?

Photo by Millicent Leandra on Unsplash

There are a lot of things I don’t like about the holiday season.

Christmas shopping out in the world with people. Ick.

The cold.

People who get upset when you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and claim your jolly greeting is some sort of microaggression in the imaginary war on Christmas.

And perfume commercials.

I reserve a lot of my holiday hate for the perfume and cologne commercials that stink up my television at this time of year.

To be clear, I’m not a perfume or cologne person in general. The mere whiff of someone’s perfume or cologne can give me a migraine. (I know, I know, I’m made of hardy stuff.)

But, I don’t actually have to smell the stuff for it me sick. The commercials make me sick too, because, they are — as a whole, some of the stupidest, most asinine pieces of advertising ever created.

As someone who has a bit of experience in advertising, and far, far more experience watching television, I’m just begging someone, anyone to come up with a new idea.

Because the thing is, all perfume and cologne commercials look the same. They all use the same formula — a formula that is supposed to make us average schmucks think of luxury and elegance.

That formula goes a little something like this:

Number 1: insert really, really good looking people. These may be models or actors or a combination of the two. The only qualifications seem to be that they can look pretty and pout.

Number 2: apply the standard wardrobe. Have the models or actors wear fancy gowns or tuxedos like make them look they’re slinking around in the background of a James Bond movie or have them wear very little at all and cover them in baby oil so they glisten like wet seals.

Number 3A: demonstrate useless skills (cologne edition). If the commercial is for a cologne, the half-clad man will perform some bizarre feat of strength, like climbing up on a rock in the sea or slinging a giant hammer for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Number 3B: demonstrate playfulness or sense of adventure (perfume edition) a.k.a get wet or bounce around on a horse. If the commercial is for a perfume, the attractive woman will do one of four things:

  1. Take a bath with way too many bubbles like she can’t read/is too carefree to be bothered to read the instructions on the bubble bath bottle
  2. Fall into a pool fully clothed in an expensive gown with complete disregard for the dress’s wash and care instructions
  3. Carry a bouquet of balloons around like she is taking an afternoon off from her day job as a children’s entertainer, or
  4. Ride a seemingly wild horse along the beach in her expensive gown because that’s totally something fancy people do, but we’re just too far removed from their world to get it

All of the things in 3B are dumb, and aside from the balloon bit, all of them defeat the purpose of even wearing perfume in the first place. The bath and the pool diving would wash the perfume off. And, I’m not a great equestrian or anything, but I’m guessing bumping along in a full evening gown on a wild animal wouldn’t exactly leaving you smelling of roses.

I think they should try something different.

What I’m asking for, what I desperately want this holiday season, is a perfume or cologne commercial that actually talks about what the stuff does.

I hate to break this to you if it’s the first time you’re hearing it, but perfume and cologne will not make you a super hot male model or an attractive, horse-riding actress in an evening gown. The one and only thing it can do aside, from give me a headache, is possibly make you smell better.

So just once, I want to see a perfume or cologne commercial that speaks to this — that cuts right to the stink of it.

I want to see a cologne commercial with an average-looking suburban dad who is lugging around loads of laundry and wiping sweat off his furrowed brow, whose spouse comes home, kisses him on the cheek and says: “Honey, you smell nice.”

I want a perfume commercial with an average-looking, middle-aged woman who looks exhausted from a long day at some boring, middle management job. She comes home and her spouse kisses her on the cheek and says: “Honey, you smell nice.”

I’d even settle for the same versions of the ads if instead of saying: “Honey, you smell nice,” the spouses say: “Honey, you smell marginally better than you would have normally if you hadn’t applied this thin veneer of spice and/or flower-scented spray.”

These ideas are gold, because seriously, damn near anything would be better than the perfume and cologne commercials they have now.

I understand that they’re trying to speak to luxury and elegance, but I think they’re doing it wrong, because instead of looking sophisticated and cool, they just come off looking ridiculous and vaguely like they’re abusing wild horses.

Plus, if I haven’t mentioned it already, they sort of stink.



Ash Strehle Hartman

I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’ve written nonfiction children’s books, bar reviews, health care communications and more: