Here's something not everyone knows about me: I used to run the Air Wick Facebook page. I used to run a lot of Facebook pages, but the Air Wick one has always been particularly special to me, because while writing their Facebook posts, I started working with my now-boyfriend. You can map our entire flirtation period by scrolling through that Facebook page: he designed lush images of jewel-coloured candles, and I wrote copy to go with it. We crafted images of reed diffusers and plug-ins as though they were the height of interior design chic, and every time we spoke to the client the same word would come back at us: premium. The brand needed to be more premium, more expensive-looking, more classy, more fashionable.
So you can imagine my surprise when, three years later, I opened Facebook and saw this advert.
Literally shitting on my memories of my early relationship, is VIPoo. Apparently, keeping a gel candle in your loo isn’t enough anymore: you need to spray your toilet before you poo in an effort to mask the smell.
What in the actual fuck, Air Wick. For decades, you weren’t even saying the word “poo”. This is, I think, the first time an air freshener has ever referred to the household’s most notorious smell-source by name. The word “poo” has always been like Voldemort to supermarket brands: something to be eluded to but never outrightly named, lest its reign of terror subsume the human race. “Bad odours” has always been the preferred euphemism, usually paired alongside more politically correct smells that we are allowed to name. “Mask cigarette smoke, pet smells and other… bad odours.”
The word “poo” has always been like Voldemort to supermarket brands: something to be eluded to but never outrightly named, lest its reign of terror subsume the human race
There’s nothing “premium” about screaming the word poo at the consumer, Air Wick!
Then there’s the ad itself: where the poos are actually illustrated as adorable, chocolate-coloured donuts, and are referred to by a blonde actress – who I assume is down on her luck – as “devil’s dumplings”.
THERE’S NOTHING PREMIUM ABOUT “DEVIlL’S DUMPLINGS”, AIR WICK!
And the weirdest thing is, this isn’t even stunt-marketing. This is an actual thing, that you can buy in shops, for five actual British pounds. Gone are the days where you leave a discreet can of air freshener or a box of matches next to your loo. We are in a post-Trump, post-truth, post-subtlety era. There is no time for euphemism and metaphor, no space for women dreamily referring to ylang-ylang while pretending that its the dog who smells. NO. We are living in the world of VIPoo, a product that claims even your shits are important.
Who is the VIPoo for? It is, I suspect, something that will end up in hen party goody bags, or in Christmas stockings of teenage boys, their mums grinning like Cheshire cats as they slowly unwrap a lemon-scented shit spray.
And finally: why did it have to be you, Air Wick? Why couldn’t it have been one of your many competitors? Why couldn’t Glade have taken the bullet on this one? Did it HAVE to be on the Facebook page where I gradually fell in love? Did you HAVE to take that away from me? Did you realise, when you created the VIPoo spray, that you will ruin the story of how my boyfriend and I got together, effectively leading to years of people asking “wait, aren’t they the ones that do the poo spray?”
You have stolen my memories, Air Wick, and I will never forgive you for it. No matter how important your poos are.