Thanks be to the retail gods that the holiday shopping season is finally over! Most of us survived, although broke and broken and broken and broke and, of course, broke.

So, as I recover from the endless stream of television commercials fed to me over the past two months, I find myself pondering certain traits in commercials.

There are too many to mention in one column, so I’ll pick the top four for the moment — the first being why are people in commercials so stupid?

It seems there’s at least one stupid person in many commercials. I see them in commercials for brokerage firms, soup and napalm retail outlets.

I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve spoken to enough of them in emergency rooms to come up with a theory that having a stupid character is not only used at a comedic tool, but to make the viewer feel superior and more likely to buy the product.

However, instead of the stupid person learning about the benefits of hemorrhoid cream, it seems like they’re making the pharmacist the dumb one, which makes no sense when you apply it (pun intended).

“You have hemorrhoids, you say? Well, as a trained and seasoned pharmacist, here’s a package of sandpaper and coconut oil.”

If we don’t get stupid people, we get annoying people or we get both.

Is there some kind of advertising formula that explains why we want to see two groups of people hocking stuff to us?

Stupid Person ± Annoying Person >% Product Placement > Reworded Pop Song = Sales { Cha-Ching!!!

One of the most egregious offenders in that regard is the Progressive insurance commercials as they’ve managed to stuff their commercials with both stupid and annoying people under the guidance of writers and directors.

“I just read your script, and I think we need to include an annoying character that will really turn people away from our commercials in disgust and anger and hopefully leave them with an urge to purchase insurance.”

“Sounds good, boss, but I’m not too good with annoying dialog as I’ve only written Hallmark sympathy cards before this job.”

“Write any dialog you like, we have this fantastic actress who auditioned, and she made my ears bleed and caused me to question my faith. She’s perfect!”

I had already mentioned car commercials in a previous column, but I’ll reiterate that the point of those commercials is to make everyone realize that being rich is awesome.

Now, I’m not the kind of person who’s envious of someone else’s wealth and success--in fact, it inspires me whenever I see it while staring through their windows at night. However, these commercials seem to display this lifestyle to the everyday man and appears a bit out of touch for the rest of us.

Although it didn’t air on TV this year, my favorite example is the family in their $900,000 home during the holidays, and their brat kid is complaining that she’s not going to see snow.

So, they pump the brat full of antihistamines and haul her in their luxury SUV to the mountains where she wakes up to discover that her parents either rented or purchased a $800,000 cabin in a winter wonderland so perfect, you’d swear it was painted by the late Bob Ross.

Finally, if you thought car commercials are out of touch with the everyday person, then perfume and cologne commercials are out of touch with the everyday Earthling.

I understand that trying to market a scent would require advertisers to be somewhat avant garde and may involve ingesting some recreational mind-altering chemicals, but the commercials I’ve seen makes me wonder if they’re actually drinking the perfume they’re trying to sell.

After several failed attempts to describe one of these commercials for those who may not have seen one, the best I can do is give them the feeling of the experience.

Start with playing a recording of a man or woman speaking French, then spin around 20 times and stare at a black-and-white photo of the Hindenburg disaster.

Here’s a simple his-her perfume/cologne commercial that can appeal to everyone: a man and a woman enter from opposite sides of a room where there’s a party happening. As they make their way to the center of the room, the party goers catch the hint of their fragrance and pursue behind them, which most people would call stalking, but this is classy.

Anyway, they meet in the middle of the room and find they’re perfect for one another, they embrace and then dance as everyone looks on with slight envy...then we pan out and see the entire party is taking place in the eye of a Blue Whale flying through the desert night sky.

Don’t know why I added that last part, must have been that shot of Chanel No. 5 I put in my coffee before writing this column.

According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. His books, “Good Mourning! A Guide to Biting the Big One...and Dying, Too” and “Stupid Brain,” are available on He co-hosts the “Locally Yours” radio show on WMBS 590 AM every Friday.

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