Warning: These commercials will make you cry. And if for some bizarre reason they don’t cause actual tears to fall out of your eyes, they will, at the very least, make you feel things.
We don’t present them to you all at once in order to embarrass you in front of your coworkers. Rather, we feel these particular advertisements are all excellent examples of the power of storytelling. Proof that having a strong point of view is what it takes to truly connect with your audience. Evidence that it is possible to evoke feelings in a short amount of time if the creative is both thoughtful and smart. But don’t take our word for it. Go ahead and watch. Just grab a box of tissues first. You’ve been warned.
Target – Acceptance
Anyone who applied to college remembers the moment she got her acceptance letter: Pure joy. Excitement. Relief. Target manages to capture all of that in these very real and raw moments of high school seniors finding out their dream just came true… All while promoting their own philanthropic efforts. Proof that the idea of hope combined with a little nostalgia is always effective in marketing.
Duracell –Trust Your Power
The best commercials are the ones that don’t feel like commercials. The ones that feel like a short film. This Duracell commercial that tracks the journey of San Francisco 49ers all-pro linebacker Patrick Willis from childhood until now will move even the most rigid amongst us. Willis’ voiceover as he describes overcoming obstacles combined with the gorgeous cinematography are perfectly effective in getting Duracell’s message across: Trust Your Power. (And do so with Duracell.)
Pantene – The Violinist
An extraordinary example of a brand that realizes the power of creating a less obvious connection, but one that will linger with the audience. In this short film, a deaf girl is ridiculed and bullied for wanting to become a violinist. Her journey is inspirational and in the end, we’re reminded by Pantene that (just like hair), “you can shine.”
ALS – Head and Shoulders
A simple childhood song takes on a whole new meaning in this PSA urging viewers to help find a cure for Lou Gherig’s Disease. When the wife’s voice cracks from sadness, so will a small part of your heart.
Purina Pro Plan Dog Food – Inside Every Good Dog is a Great Dog
Adorable dogs doing amazing things + a sappy song about finding greatness inside oneself = tears welling up in eyes.
Chipotle – Back to the Start
Chipotle wanted to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system so they created a film that shows a farmer who turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before realizing the error of his ways and “going back to the start.” This short film is an excellent example of the power of storytelling. And Willie Nelson’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is the perfect complement. We dare you to watch it and not get goosebumps.
P&G – Thank You Mom
Another amazing example of the power of raw emotion and great storytelling. P&G shows how moms all across the world selflessly give so much to help their children realize their dreams. The best part is that, while yes, it’s an advertisement for P&G, it’s also a thank you to moms everywhere. And anyone with a mom is going to be moved by that.
Monster – Stork
For many of us, failing to reach our potential is a real fear. This commercial follows the story of a stork who survives all sorts of adversity to do his job and deliver the baby in his care… only to return years later to discover that baby has grown up to do meaningless work that leaves him unsatisfied. It’s a story too many of us can relate to and the question “Are you reaching your potential?” is one that lingers even after the spot ends.
Hallmark – Hooper
This list just wouldn’t be complete without a Hallmark ad, the original creators of ads that make us cry. Another example of a small moment that captures a larger story and makes us nostalgic for those in our lives that helped us grow.
Thai Life Insurance – Silence of Love
We’ve saved the saddest for last. A powerful story about a daughter who is bullied for having a dad who isn’t like the other dads. Melodramatic, certainly, but don’t blame us when you’re wiping away tears at the end.
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