Behind the Work: The Air Makes It Home in Droga5's Latest for Air Wick

Emotional Anthem Takes Unexpected POV

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When you think of air freshener, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is that cloying smell spreading from the bathroom plug-in at Auntie Betty's, or maybe it's an image of that desiccated wax cone that sat above the potty in Grandma's powder room. Droga5 New York sets out to make us rethink stereotypes about air care with its new anthem ad for Reckitt-Benckiser's Air WIck, centered on the tag that "Home Is in the Air."

The agency has debuted a surprisingly moving, poetic film that takes viewers through every nook and cranny of a household. The camera zooms and twirls in and out through various rooms, drifting across the kids' craft table, sweeping past a sleeping son's mouth, swirling along with a ceiling fan and even making its way into radiator vents, where it encounters lost action figures and a spider. A folksy guitar tune plays as a V.O. reflects on the little things that make a house a home.

The "Home Is in the Air" campaign first manifested last year, with the touching holiday film that brought "home" to a soldier during the holidays in the form of candles that reproduced familiar scents from his household.

Tiffany McLaud, marketing director for Air Wick, said that the client brief to the agency called for "creating a stronger, more emotional connection with consumers to build engagement and loyalty. We asked that the creative solution be future-proof, so that it could support the total brand and future innovation as well."

The new film continues to build on the idea that "it's not home until it's in the air," said Ms. McLaud. The long version, seen here, is being distributed through paid digital and social media; a 30-second version will air on broadcast through Q1.

"From the brief we came across a really beautiful insight, that everyone really cares about what they put into their home," said Droga5 Creative Director Tim Gordon. "It doesn't have to be fancy or overly flashy. The way people create their home is a really true expression of themselves. What we realized is that air in your home is part of that. The idea of using the air to say something about your home really resonated strongly with our target." The demo for the campaign is women from ages 25 to 55.

Technical Challenges

The spot appears to be a feat of technical wizardry, given that the camera plays the role of the air and literally encounters everything you'd expect the air would "touch," spinning and winding as you'd imagine the air would do. The agency worked with Smuggler director Adam Berg, known for his skill combining new technology with classical filmmaking. "He's incredible in a technical sense and also a storytelling sense," explained Mr. Gordon. "We came to him with the script and idea and through collaboration, we landed on the idea of a seamless journey that shows how air weaves together the entire home."

The spot was largely shot in-camera, with very little done in post. Mr. Berg worked with Oscar-nominated director of photography Linus Sandgren to devise a custom camera set-up that could move through tricky terrain, like the pegs of a banister. A long, borescopic lens -- one that can reach into tight spaces, also helped capture complicated shots. Most of the ad was shot in a home in Pasadena, but the agency also built custom sets for the shots too difficult to capture with the equipment on hand. Mr. Berg also chose lighting that imparted an ethereal quality to the film, and clever editing also helped the film feel as if it was shot in one take.

Mr. Gordon said the biggest challenge on this job was restraint. It was important that the film showed a "real" home, not something overly polished and perfect. "From the height marks on the door to children's toys scattered all over -- it's all those things that make it feel true," he said. "The hardest, and most important thing was for us not to get too carried away, to try to show the house in its most authentic way."

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