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Oh man, any animal shelter ad, especially those evil, evil ones by the ASPCA with the sad music and pictures of abused animals and the worst part is that they seem to go on forever. Good lord. There is a local shelter ad that has more uplifting, eyes-get-misty-in-a-good-way ads showing before and after pictures of animals after being nursed back to health and looking all happy.
This Commercial. Natalie Merchant's My Skin is lethal to hearts. The captions don't help any. "What did I do wrong?... Why did they hurt me?... Why did they abandon me?... Will I die today?"
From an anti-dogfighting ad: "You're my best friend," that quote will echo in one's head for a while.
The American Museum of Natural History has a video that plays on a loop in the Hall of Ocean Life that starts off showing the wonders of the ocean with very nice background music. Then the music changes, the video shows pollution and other environmental problems affecting the ocean, concluding with a sea turtle trapped in a net, struggling, then giving up and looking helplessly at the camera. At this point, if you've been watching the whole thing, you're ready to scream. THEN, some scuba divers come by and free the turtle, and it cuts to oceanography and preservation, for a serious Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
This one anti-drinking commercial with the little girl who says that in seven years, she'll be an alcoholic.
A commercial where rain was falling in sheets on grimy city streets while anonymous feet stomped and hurried to and fro. From a crack in a sidewalk, a single flower was growing, the only bit of color in the whole city, but battered by the rain and always in danger of being crushed. The flower was a child with cancer...
An advertisement for chicken pox vaccinations or something of the like. The ad began by revealing that many children die each year from complications brought on by chicken pox... and it features several toys, a jack-in-the-box, a teddy bear, a ragdoll, a rubber ducky... all quietly weeping over their lost "children."
Those commercials for the children in foreign countries that have lost their families and need water or vaccinations. Those sad faces. Dear God, all those sad faces!
These◊ cot death awareness posters have been turning up around Scotland recently. Walks a thin line between Narm and tragedy.
An ad on MTV, where a donkey travels across the screen in a gritty urban-landscape and after it a text appears. "It takes 20 seconds for the donkey to reach the other side of the screen. By then, two children die because of starvation. Help now." It really hit the point home with the facts in a really, really sad way.
The Meth Project ads where the rehabilitated users are shown everything they gave up for meth. Having a child makes the one of the young father touching the face of the mannequin very painful.
In Germany, there were anti-speeding billboards along the Autobahn that showed sad-looking people holding pictures of loved ones who had died in car accidents. The one with the little girl and her mother with the picture of the dead father was particularly wrenching.
Go to Australia. Watch the local channels, and just wait for an anti-smoking, anti-drug or road-safe ad to come on.
The road-safe ads especially. The Australia Road-Safe advertisers don't just show you a car crash or a gravestone, they will show you graphic reconstructions of devastating accidents and the effect they have on both the family and the person at fault. They have ads which are just footage of family and friends of actual casualties speaking about how the incident has affected them.
The work-safe ones which feature a family waiting for their father at home or at some event he was supposed to meet them at. The music as he finally walks through the door...
Thesetwo old anti-AIDS Public Service Announcements. To say that these stories are depressing is an understatement.
Concerned Children's Advertisers sponsored a PSA back in the mid-90's or thereabouts. It featured a young man visiting his estranged friend in drug rehab, intercut with flashbacks to their carefree childhoods, all while "He Ain't Heavy, He's my Brother" played in the background.
This commercial for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. It features actor Carroll O'Connor (known for his roles in All in the Family and In the Heat of the Night) talking briefly about his son Hugh O'Connor and his 1995 suicide after struggling half his life with drug addiction. At the end, the pain in his voice is heartbreaking as he urges other parents: "Get between your kids and drugs any way you can." Carroll himself would die 6 years later in 2001.
The Happier Home Movie ads for the UK Kill Your Speed campaign in The Nineties, showing young children smiling and having fun on home videos until the caption at the end tells you they all were all killed in childhood by speeding drivers.
One variation had the home videos juxtaposed with a voice over instructing police officers on how to break the news of a child's death to their family.
A similar campaign ran in the States, done by the Ad Council. They too showed home movies of adults and children, before a caption would state that they were killed by drunk drivers.
One UK drugs PIF featured a man in a suit talking to the camera about how his daughter was a good girl with no problems, and that her boyfriend was a "nice young man". He then reveals that her boyfriend's previous girlfriend was a drug user. Then comes the Wham Line. It turns out he's dressed for her funeral, and his wife appears behind him, ready to go.
"Well the way I see it is if that girl had been helped in time... my girl wouldn't have got AIDS."
"Kathy Can't Sleep", from the UK Drinking and Driving Wrecks Lives campaign. A little girl is awake in the middle of the night, while her mother is heard screaming hysterically at her father because while he was driving intoxicated he killed a little boy. Heartbreaking.
Some of the "We Prevent" PSA's from the Ad Council and the National Crime Prevention Council in the 90's are especially heartbreaking.
For instance, this one shows a woman with her dead son on her lap. She sings "Hush, Little Baby" to him as a policewoman comes to comfort her. Her husband runs to the scene and cries over his body. The PSA ends with the said boy's funeral.
Another features Peter, Paul, and Mary's song, "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?" remade as "Where Have all the Children Gone." Just listening to the song is sure to work those tear ducts.
To redden your eyes further from crying, this PSA is a musical montage of various news coverages of crime scenes, memorial vigils, families reacting to their relatives' and friends deaths, funerals, etc.
Male VO: Not one more lost life. Not one more grieving family. Not. One. More.
Speaking of the "Not One More" PSA's, here's another one. It's about a girl who talks about inviting her mother and her friends. She talks about having nice music and a pretty blue dress. But she isn't talking about her sweet sixteen or her quinceañera - she's talking about her funeral when she gets fatally shot. Before we cut to the NCPC phone number and the Ad Council logo, a white casket is displayed in front of an open window.
"Quiet Time" is also another Ad Council PSA that needs tissues. A group of kids in their Sunday best are standing quietly, only to have the viewer find out that they are attending the funeral of a classmate who has been murdered by a gun.
The Icelandic Road Traffic Directorate has a lot of weepies.
"The Risk Isn't Worth It" campaign broke viewers' hearts in 2005. The TV ads feature shots of cemeteries as family members speak of how their loved ones died in auto accidents. Here's an example.
An Ireland PSA against drunk driving has a soccer player drive while drunk and crash into a backyard, running over a toddler. The driver gets out to see the boy's father (who a few minutes ago was playing with the boy) holding his dead son and wailing, while the narrator asks if you could live with the guilt.
A Brazilian domestic violence awareness organization placed statues of the Virgin Mary all over one beach town. Passerbys took pictures and prayed in front of them as they bleed from not only their eyes, but from their noses. They did it intentionally to reflect the reality of women who are enduring domestic violence.
This Verison commercial,about a little girl who was discouraged from following her dreams.
Save the Children's Most Shocking Second a Day video is essentially a good minute and a half illustration of breaking the cutie. It opens with a little girl celebrating her birthday with all her family and friends and going about her life, only to find herself in a war zone as the year progresses. The video ends with her once again celebrating her birthday, only she's in a refugee camp, with only her mother nearby, and clearly physically ill.
Here's a PSA from True Move, Thailand's third-largest mobile operator and a testament to the power of a simple good deed. If your eyes aren't leaking by the end, you have a heart of stone.
This St John's Ambulance PIF will, at the very least, leave you shocked. It shows a man being diagnosed with cancer, surviving his treatment and fully recovering only to die from choking on food because none of his friends or family knew how to do first aid. He went through all that treatment for a terminal disease, just to die from something that could easily have been prevented.
This Budweiser ad about a loyal dog waiting for his master to return from a party features the poignant line "For some, the waiting never ended." This line, especially for anyone who has been affected by a drunk driving incident, just pulls on the heartstrings. Which is why it becomes a Heartwarming Moment when the owner finally returns in the morning, having stayed over at his friend's house instead of driving home.
This commercial for Knorr Sidekicks dubbed "Salty". It's supposed to be funny, but it's hard to see the humour in something so cute as a humanized salt shaker being so unwanted, especially when one knows the feeling.
You probably have to be a Florida alum for this effect to kick in, but the university'sseriesof"Go Gators!" commercials bring a tear every time. Especially those last two.
"The Michigan Difference" (seen here and here). Seeing the Survival Flight chopper take off is particularly wrenching, knowing that they're still flying despite losing a crew (pilots, surgeons and perfusionists) on takeoff from Milwaukee two years ago.
The Thai Insurance ads. They usually give a glimpse of people's lives suffering through some sort of misfortune (an old woman unable to play piano anymore, three kids living in poverty) only to be lifted upward by a kind soul (the woman's daughter playing piano for her, the three kids adopted by a caring mother).
One more for the pile of tissues: "Silence of Love", a daughter dealing with teasing over her father being a deaf-mute and being unable to communicate with him properly. She's Driven to Suicide over it, and he risks his own life to save hers via direct blood transfusion. Made even worse with the Dead Islandtheme.
Another Thai ad, this time for ceiling panels. Two geckos in love are tragically separated by the male falling out of a crack in a ceiling panel.
Barnardo's, a British charity that works with vulnerable children, has a few depressing ads:
A TV commercial showed a series of vignettes from a girl's life: injecting heroin, mugging someone to feed her addiction, being locked up, beaten by her father, and bullied at school because she can't read. These repeat and repeat at increasingly vicious speed, ending with a statement that Barnardo's is often the only way for such kids to break the cycle of violence and abuse.
The Life Story Advert, where an adult is shown talking to a psychiatrist. He subtly ages down as he speaks to the audience about his childhood.
The Subaru "Keepsake" ads where a guy is looking at his smashed-up Subaru in a junk yard and says that it saved his life, so he takes the top of the stick shift off and drives away with sad music in the background.
The Missing Dog commercial: a man lost his dog and is doing everything he can to find him. After some girls find the dog and see the poster, they call the master and show him a video of the dog in their possession. Yep, all this for a cellphone commercial.
Those AT&T commercials with the child-like drawings. That song, the images of them falling.
While on the subject of AT&T, the "It Can Wait" commercials are actually really depressing. Having no music or no announcer speaking after a person tells their story relating to the commercial's topic of texting and driving doesn't really help. Which is kind of the point.
Continuing from the Michael Jordan example above, there's a commercial that Nike aired in the final month of Jordan's career. Remember good 'ol Mars Blackmon from the Air Jordan commercials? Cut back to almost 20 years later, Mars is on the phone with Jordan, still in shock over Jordan's retirement. It was Michael Jordan's last Air Jordan commercial, and quite possibly the last time we'd see Mars Blackmon. It manages to be heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time:
There was a Skittles commercial that was supposed to be funny, but was just downright depressing. It involved a man who could turn anything into Skittles by touching it. But as he describes, he can't touch anyone or anything without them turning into Skittles. He couldn't touch his newborn son, he accidentally killed a guy by shaking his hand, and other depressing things.
A McDonald's commercial in the early 1980s about a little boy whose parents just brought home a new baby. A voice sings about the new baby, then there's a shot of family members oohing and ahhing over the baby and its big blue eyes, while ignoring the little boy. The voice then sings "Doesn't anybody remember..." and the little boy, completely dejected, looks at himself in the mirror and sadly tells his reflection "I had blue eyes first." If you ever felt like The Unfavorite, this could hit close to home.
Several ads for Google Chrome. If you can watch this, this and this without blubbing you are made of stronger stuff than most. And this is in ads for a web browser.
Here's a Google Chrome commercial with Hatsune Miku. All those dedicated fans...
This advert for Aviva starts out like any normal insurance commercial. Then there's a tearjerking twist near the end. The father that was talking about his family turns out to be a ghost and as soon as that fact is realized, he is no longer there.
A recent Hardee's commercial features a robot buying one of their hand-breaded chicken fillet sandwiches, only to realize he doesn't have a mouth, becoming depressed. The fact that the narrator expresses No Sympathy towards the robot's misery doesn't help, either. It was meant to be funny, but it just ends up becoming a Glurge-ridden piece of Cringe Comedy that becomes more depressing in hindsight. There's even an extended version where the robot destroys a room in a fit of rage.
This McDonald's commercial about a family slowly growing apart over the years: At first, everyone was at the table, chattering happily, with their new baby sister. Then it showed the family growing fewer, one by one, 'til only the mom and dad are left in their old age. Made even sadder by the song playing. It turned heartwarming at the end though, when the whole family is shown (with some new additions) at McDonald's for a reunion.
The 2012Compare the Meerkat advertisement. It's a series that's been going on for years and the duo... Watch his lip.
The Trifexis commercial just seems silly at first glance. But being trapped in that ridiculous oversized rodent tube thing, the dog has barely any room for maneuverability, can't interact with the world around it, and worse, can't be close with its family. Makes the ending where it's let out something of a Heartwarming Moment by comparison.
This eBay commercial. An old tugboat that a child lost in the 1970s manages to find its way to Asia and put up for auction on eBay... and the grown child managed to come across it while web surfing.
"Brotherhood" by Budweiser. A man and a horse share a great kinship.
That Budweiser commercial is a Tear Jerker and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming all at once! This one, however, also deserves a mention here. It was aired after 9/11 and only once just to acknowledge the tragic event. It will make you cry.
On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Budweiser aired another ad to, yet again, acknowledge the event. This will make you cry, especially after seeing the (then under construction) One World Trade Center.
An advert in the UK for Robinsons' Juice has two boys playing together outside, teasing each other about girls, drinking the orange juice and watching a film together at home. The first boy falls asleep on the couch, and the second boy takes off his shoes for him, carries him upstairs and puts him into bed. As the second boy walks out, he pauses at the door and the first boy sleepily says "Night, Dad." We see the 'second boy' at the door again, now grown-up as his Dad, as the text says at the end "It's Good To Be A Dad, It's Better To Be A Friend."
This critically acclaimed Purina commercial is this along with a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. It makes you look at your own dog and remember how great he/she is to you, even if they've never won any medals or sniffed any bombs.
To Michael, an ad for the Playstation 3 where numerous video game characters tell their story on how a gamer (the aforementioned Michael) helped them prove their worth and become the heroes they are. The concept alone will get you choked up, but it really turns on the waterworks once you realize that the ad was dedicated to a popular gamer who had recently died of cancer, so the characters are congratulating Michael in remembrance of him due to his recent death.
The Playstation 4's launch ad, Perfect Day. It's about people playing multiplayer games and having fun with one another, all while singing about their fun. You can't help but shed tears of joy when watching this.
Chipotle has an online advertisement for an android game of theirs called The Scarecrow. It depicts a scarecrow who works in the meat industry. The face on the cow as he closes the door is just heartbreaking.
This commercial for Cesar dog food features a man and his West Highland terrier who visit a grave (assumed to be his deceased wife). Not only the way the story is told in 60 seconds, but also the portrayal of the bond between man and dog, really stirs the emotions.
John Lewis makes some really sad, but happy, Christmas ads...
The 'Monty the Penguin' Christmas 2014 ad gets depressing halfway through. It starts with a boy and his pet penguin hanging out and playing, the best of friends. But when the boy points outside that it's snowing, his penguin doesn't care and looks genuinely sad, looking at the TV in sadness... because it's showing a pair of lovers and he doesn't have anyone to love. It doesn't help that he just stops and looks so depressed when he sees another couple. It doesn't help that the song playing has the lyrics 'Don't want to be alone' playing at that part. It ends on a fuzzy moment when the penguin receives his Christmas present - another penguin... then we cut to the boy's parents then back to them to reveal that the penguins are stuffed toys.
Come to think about it, John Lewis are really good at releasing and that are tear jerkers until the ending, especially around Christmas. The Christmas ad the year before, 'The Bear and the Hare' starts with the text, 'There once was an animal who had never seen Christmas'. All the other forest animals are putting up decorations and giving gifts... except the bear who has to go into hibernation, while his best friend the hare just resigns himself the fact... but leaves a Christmas present for him in his cave. When all the other animals are opening presents happily, the hare just can't enjoy the occasion without his friend. It pays off and the bear arrives just as the sun shines down on the bear. The two happily reunite for the festive holiday as we find out what the gift was - an alarm clock. 'Give someone a Christmas they'll never forget.'
You see a happy, inquisitive girl grow up interested in the world around her and in science - touching flowers, going through streams, collecting sea-life at the beach, making an amazing paper mache orrery for her own room, working on a rocket with her brother, only to be told "Don't get your dress dirty," "Leave that alone," "Your project is out of hand," "Let your brother do that. That's dangerous." As a teen, she sees a flyer for her school science fair... and turns to look at her reflection on the display case to reapply her lip gloss before walking away. The text comes up onto the screen: "66% of fourth grade girls say they like science and math. But only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.".