Do you need something to bring on a crying spell and release your emotions? Whether you’re looking for tears of joy or of sadness, take a peek at these 10 commercials that are guaranteed to bring on some tears.
1) That One SPCA Commercial
Everyone has seen this Sarah McLachlan commercial at least once in their life. A slow, minor vocal track plays over zooming shots of sad animals in cages, pens, and shelters, as McLachlan discusses the number of animals in shelters, including the number of those in kill shelters. What primarily gets people in this ad is the melancholic music combined with the heartbreaking facts and visuals. Better yet, McLachlan offers easy ways for viewers to help these poor creatures, such as making donations. The fact that this commercial lasts for two minutes doesn’t help our tear ducts either.
2) Maddie and Chevy
This commercial has it all: a girl growing into a woman, her adorable Golden Retriever, and the typical piano score. Unlike most car commercials, this one focuses on the long-lasting relationship between a girl and her furry companion as they grow up together. They experience important moments together such as learning to drive, first heartbreak, and graduation. The story is told in reverse, portraying the two at an older age, and then time works backwards until we see the little girl picking out a puppy from a litter and naming her Maddie. There is no indication the commercial is selling a car until the end of the run. It shows how long a Chevy will last in a touching way.
3) Thai Life Insurance
Though this commercial may not pertain to those living in America, its message of selfless generosity still rings true even for those abroad. In this commercial, we see a man going about his daily routine, which includes helping a street vendor with her cart, donating money to a poor mother and daughter, giving food to a stray dog, and leaving fruit at the door of a little old woman every day. Eventually, with his help, the vendor is successful, the daughter can go to school with the money he has given the duo, he befriends the dog, and the neighbor thanks him. A voice wonders why the man does this, and its conclusion is simple—the man witnesses happiness, love, and a better understanding of the world.
This commercial for Extra gum follows the relationship between a father and daughter. We see the dad offering small paper cranes made out of gum wrappers to his daughter in times of tranquility, such as a beach day; happiness, like at a baseball game; and distress, for example a break up. After we see the girl grow up, it’s time for her to go off to college. The dad is carrying boxes into a loaded car, and one small box falls onto the driveway. Out of the box fall the many cranes she has kept over the years. The dad picks up a crane and reminisces about his daughter’s life. This specific commercial has no dialogue between the two, but the soft piano embodies the characters’ and our own emotions just fine—a sense of security and love through the cranes.
This German ad for a supermarket chain portrays a world in which everyone, including pets, is more or less obese. All people eat the same grey mushy food, which is alluded to be the cause of this. One little boy develops a dream of being able to fly like the birds he sees in nature. The boy realizes that as long as he is obese, he won’t be able to fly. He then takes it upon himself to eat healthier foods, like some berries he finds in the forest. He stops eating the grey, gooey gunk and continues to eat the berries. Once he loses all the weight, he lives out his dream and flies among the birds that inspired him before. This commercial may spark tears of joy as in the end, the kid is able to achieve his dream.
This Foremost commercial opens with a man meeting with a chaupher to shuttle him back to his home. The man says he’s been away from home for a few years, and then goes on to explain that he was away to earn money in order to buy his daughter a pair of new shoes. The ad shows that the father is not the best at boxing, as he starts losing money because he isn’t winning fights. When the father returns home, it is revealed that his daughter has a disability involving her legs, which need to be supported with braces. The two embrace each other. In the end, we never see if he got the shoes or not, but instead, we see the determination and love of a father for his daughter in need.
7) The Dog Carrier
This Amazon Prime commercial appeals to our emotions in a very effective way—with a dog in a cast. To start, we see a man walking his dog, who is stilted by a cast on his leg. The dog sees other dogs walking and running just fine, and it seems to have a sad look on its face. The dog then has trouble venturing down stairs and seems upset that he can’t play with his owner like the other dogs. The man, who looks to be sympathetic for the dog, buys a sort of baby carrier-esque product for the dog. The next time we see the two going for a walk, the dog is visibly excited to be able to walk with his owner normally.
8) 2015 Nationwide Super Bowl
This commercial has recently gained a notoriety amongst the Internet for being too depressing and drastic. In this advertisement, we see a little boy talking about all the life events he will never experience, such as getting cooties, traveling, or getting married. During these events, the boy is still about 7 to 10 years old. The boy then blatantly states that he won’t ever accomplish these things, as he died at a very young age. A voice-over explains that the leading cause of childhood deaths is preventable accidents, while the commercial shows places a kid may die, like drowning in a bathtub or being crushed by a large TV. The ad ends by saying that “we need to protect what matters most—your kids.”
9) Elton John
This 2018 Christmas commercial appeals especially to Elton John fans, but the tone of the ad can do the same to just about anyone. This ad focuses on the importance a gift can play in someone’s life through John’s story. The commercial hits key point of his life as one of his slower, softer songs play in the background. We see Elton John performing on stage, playing on a plane, and by himself in his home. After showcasing all his grand accomplishments, the ad shows us the Christmas he got his first piano, which led to the valuable moments we just saw. We know what the future holds for young John as his younger self stares in awe at the piano.
10) The Crying Indian
This commercial addresses the societal impacts of pollution on Native Americans. We first see an Indigenous man floating down a river in his canoe. He passes bits of trash in the water and the scenery changes from the peaceful river to a highly industrialized area. We then see an overlay of images of factories with the Indian rowing. The man brings his canoe onto a litter-filled shore as a voice explains that “some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country… and some people don’t.” The Native man watches as people in cars throw trash onto a highway towards his feet. “People can start pollution, people can stop it” rings in our ears as the camera zooms in on the man’s face, and a tear rolls down his cheek. The soft music that plays throughout, along with the contrasting images, creates a great sense of sadness and regret within viewers for the damage humanity has caused to our planet.
Commercials and advertisements utilize many tactics to bring about emotions from viewers. They may use a slower, minor-key song, upsetting images, or a small story that is wholesome or depressing. Did any of these commercials bring on a crying spell? Get some feelings out? If not, can you find any other commercials that may make you cry?
* All photos are all screen captures from mentioned commercials.
Aarron Sholar is an undergraduate Junior who is pursuing a major in creative writing and a minor in business writing. He plans to continue writing as a future career or pursuing graduate school after graduating from Salisbury University.