The holidays are a time for happiness. Togetherness. Celebration. Advertisers have an uphill battle trying to stand out in a market saturated with that kind of unbridled joy, so many head in a different direction: making you weep like a baby, preferably in front of people. Extra points if they can get your nose to run. Even we, as time-hardened advertising professionals, sometimes find ourselves affected, and thus we present the best of the tear-jerking best:
Honorable Mention: Edeka (Jung von Matt)
This ad for Edeka, a German supermarket, doesn’t bring home a Weepy because of agency Jung von Matt’s blatant pandering to the judges: They were just, like, “Hey, you know what makes people cry? Dead grandpas!” (In their defense, people do almost always cry over dead grandpas.) That’s how we get a sweet, lonely, elderly man whose family won’t be able to make it to his house for Christmas — so he fakes his own death to gather his crying, black-clad children in mourning. “How else could I have brought you all together?” he asks. I don’t know, Opa. Any other way. Any other way, Opa.
Bronze: Ballymena (Grafters Design Studio)
Some of us, and we’ll never reveal who, never got past the stage of treating our stuffed animals like they’re alive, which brought special meaning to this saga of a wayward teddy bear’s quest through snowy streets to find the little girl he’s meant for. He does seem to have a fun enough time exploring the stores and restaurants of the small Irish town of Ballymena, but it’s when he’s finally in the arms of his little girl that the tears start to flow, if they weren’t already.
Silver: John Lewis (Adam&Eve/DBB)
British department store John Lewis is known for its annual emotional holiday commercials, and this one doesn’t let us down: It gives us an adorable little girl, a lonely old man and a sweet, wistful cover of Oasis’s “Half the World Away.” As her loved ones gather for a Christmas party, little Lily is determined to do whatever she can to cheer up the lonely old man on the moon so he doesn’t feel quite so alone. We never find out exactly how he got up there, with his little house, but we don’t bother questioning because we’re too busy looking for tissues.
Gold: Annual Christmas Lottery Spain: Justino (Leo Burnett Iberia)
Another elderly man here, this one probably related to the old guy from Up, lonely over the holidays. (Hey, lonely old men are in this year.) Justino works the night shift at a mannequin factory, with nothing to do but walk the floor on his rounds and arrange the mannequins in funny scenes for the day shift’s enjoyment: snowball fights, dance moves, a fantastic Rube Goldbergian mannequin Christmas tree. As we watch grainy security footage of Justino’s day-shift co-workers celebrating their win in Spain’s annual Christmas lottery, we start to tear up (poor, left-out Justino). But when he arrives for yet another late-night shift, the entire day shift is waiting — the winning ticket is for him, because his colleagues love and appreciate everything he does for them, even if they aren’t there to show it. If you aren’t openly crying at this point, you have no soul.
Have we missed anything? Which ads have you sniffling this holiday season? Leave your nominations in comments.