Commentary

Air Wick's 'Home Is... (The Full Story)' Shows The Brand's New Sense Of Self

It took us two-and-a-half years, but we’ve finally purged our house of all traces of its prior occupants. The decisive blow was landed this week, when a kitchen table we inherited as part of financial accommodation for dew-drippy bathroom skylights was sent back to a deeper, darker hell than the one from which it came (read: the surly-Jer-Z adjunct of the Salvation Army). We replaced it with a gleaming white table surfaced with a schmutz-resistant finish that the three-year-old couldn’t soil if he tried. Oh, like gently worn string cheese can penetrate quartz? Go to your room, kid, more for your ignorance than your feeble sabotage.

The previous owners actually had quite lovely taste - mind you, I say this as someone who considers pop-cultural relicsfrom his salad days the pinnacle of interior design - but there’s something to be said for making a living or working space entirely one’s own. Upon arriving in the kitchen early every morning, I’m no longer greeted with a monstrosity in mahogany. Rather, I soar into the waking hours upon the minimalist wings of a daydream in crème. This table has done more to stabilize my mood than alcohol and therapy combined.

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So even before I spent a few minutes with Air Wick’s latest home-is-where-the-malodorous-heart-is brand dispatch, I was primed to enjoy it. Selling a product of this nature can’t be easy - by purchasing it, you’re more or less admitting that the pong of your surroundings is displeasing to anyone except sweatsock fetishists - but Air Wick has done an admirable job positioning its wares as household enhancements. Whoever came up with the “home fragrance solutions” phrasing deserves a raise.

Air Wick’s first video aligned with that brand positioning - December’s “Home Is in the Air,” in which the company figured out a way to send the smells of home to a soldier deployed in Qatar - yanked on the heart strings far too hard for my taste. But the second, “Home Is… (The Full Story),” ditches the mawkish Home-Makeover-Piteous-Wretch-Edition approach and, in the process, does far more to advance Air Wick’s new sense of self.

The clip assumes the form of a super-close-up tour of a typical family abode. We start amid the plants and take a quick run through the kitchen, where the camera lingers on and around potential pockets of stink (the fridge, a steaming pot that may or may not contain copious portions of halibut gumbo, etc.). From there, we take a few rotations with the fan, dive-bomb the omnipresent blanket on the couch, get all up in the cat’s grille, rush past the piano (is there something odorifically untoward in its cabinet?), head upstairs, duck through a dusty air vent, pop out right near the dog and Junior’s kicks, catch a few puffs of Junior’s nap breath, then shoot back through a crease in the floor into a beautifully arranged sitting room - where, unless you’re paying attention, you’ll miss the strategically placed Air Wick doohickey.

Spelled out like that, the clip sounds like something a C-grade realtor would assemble for a dumb client. But there’s a fluidity to the visuals that’s rare in brand video. Somebody took a lot of time getting the details, like the between-floors mounting screw that keeps the chandelier from raining contusions on those in its downward path, just right. As a result, the “Home Is… (The Full Story)” house comes across less as a physical place and more as a living, breathing entity. The clip features two human beings in the barest state of motion, yet everything about the house it surveys feels actively inhabited and alive.

I’m not sure how much we need the opening narration (“your house isn’t just four walls and a roof. It’s the sum of everything you put into it, even the raccoon carcasses” - my transcription might be a little off there) and I’m outright confused by the faint “dramatization” overlay at the start of the clip (anyone who confuses this with cinema verité deserves to have his freshening-with-air privileges monitored by the authorities). That said, “Home Is… (The Full Story)” is a lovely little portrait of a sanctuary in all its lived-in messiness. Brand videos don’t come much more artful and meticulously realized.

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