It used to be a trope in movies and TV shows that characters would realize they were clinically depressed when they found themselves crying during a commercial. Now, however, this behavior is in keeping with the tone of a broad swath of ads–you might be concerned if you’re not crying during ads lately. As Co.Create chronicled a while back, brands seem to be going out of their way lately to forge connections with consumers via their tear ducts. One clear example was the recent Cheerios ad, “Nana,” in which a little kid posits the breakfast cereal as some kind of culinary necro-conduit connecting him to his dead grandmother. Now, the brand has followed this ad up with another spot that blatantly plucks at your heartstrings like a stubby-fingered harpist.
Following a ton of other Father’s Day ads, Cheerios is also focused on paternal relations this time out. Directed by Matt Smukler at Community Films, the minute-long ad from Saatchi & Saatchi New York is called “Night Drive” and it starts out right on the nose. Set to the throaty strains of John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me,” whose first line is “When the road gets dark,” we open on a man taking a long, nocturnal drive. American geography aficionados will note the Lake Shore Drive sign and deduce that this man is entering Chicago. The purpose of the titular night drive? To make sure that his newly graduated young adult daughter has a healthy breakfast on her first day of work. Cue you sobbing into your own bowl of cereal and family memories.
This ad and its predecessor are part of Cheerios’ ongoing strategy to present emotional family moments. The brand stirred hearts and a discussion about racism after last year’s “Just Checking” ad featuring an interracial family sparked hateful comments on YouTube and elsewhere.