Do these ads trigger your tear ducts? Ours too.

Ranking New Zealand’s top tear-jerking TV ads

Get in touch with your emotional side by reliving some of our most heartwarming commercials on TV.

It’s been an emotional year, and it’s about time we had a good cry over it. Not a quiet whimper or a sneaky sob, but the kind of cathartic purging that only comes from watching a television ad about a single dad sacrificing everything to buy his daughter a puppy. There’s a little bit of good in everyone, and if the heartwarming moment when that child sees her dog for the first time doesn’t have you snivelling into your sleeve and whispering “I see you and I feel you, tiny dancer”, then we are all doomed.

Luckily for us, New Zealand television is awash with advertisements that play on our heartstrings like we’re human harps in an orchestra of feelings.  These ads last only a few seconds, but they pack an instant emotional punch. One minute you’re watching Wendy Petrie on the six o’clock news, the next you’re sobbing over a young girl struggling to learn to swim. Whether it’s the touching music, the relatable storytelling or the cute kids, these ads make you unravel quicker than you can say “Sealord Frozen Fish Fillets”, and that’s a beautiful thing.

A good tearjerker is a sentimental work of art, and – in an era where streaming rules supreme – a rare gem. These aren’t just ads: they’re Oscar-worthy short films that will melt the hardest of souls into a sensitive puddle of feelings. Let’s grab the tissues and open the emotional floodgates with 10 of New Zealand’s most tear-jerking ads. 

10) What Do You Bring to the Table? (Vogels, 2017)

Sometimes it’s nice to cry over happy things, like complex carbohydrates and cool people. This ad will restore your faith in humanity, as eight strangers sit around a table and swap stories about how awesome they are.

9) Be Like a Fish (Sealord, 2017)

Last Place Lucy is a queen and I will throw a box of frozen Hoki Fish Bites in Lemon Pepper Crumb at anyone who suggests otherwise.

8) Could You Live With Yourself? (Fire and Emergency NZ, 2012)

Just getting rid of the giant lump in my throat and checking my smoke alarms.

7) He Ain’t Heavy (NZ Police, 1991)


A classic crime prevention campaign from the days when the police wore funny hats and All Blacks had normal jobs.

6) Spot the Dog: Adios, Amigos (Telecom, 2000)

Spot was a ray of doggo sunshine during the 90s, introducing us to Telecom’s latest technology like call waiting, faxes and “the internet”. Then the wee fella died, leaving us with nothing but our memories and an obsolete copy of the Yellow Pages.

5) Quit for Your Pets (, 2019)

This ad campaign reminds us that smoking around pets makes them twice as likely to get cancer. It’s raw as hell, and you’ll end up blubbering like you’re halfway through a cask of Blenheimer and Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men’s ‘One Sweet Day’ just came on the radio.

4) Imagine (Lotto Powerball, 2015)

Because dreams do come true, me hearties.  

3) Send and You Shall Receive (NZ Post, 2007)

Watching this ad makes all my cynicism about paying $4 to send a thin piece of paper that then takes eight days to arrive in a city only five hours drive away instantly disappear. The song is a Kiwi classic, the baby is a Kiwi classic, this whole thing is a Kiwi classic.

2) Wedding Speech (Spark, 2019)

This is the world Spot promised us in the 90s when he got sucked into that phone jack, a world where technology connects us in ways that transcend time and place. This ad is heavy with heartbreak and hope, and the moment when the camera pans to reveal the father is not actually giving his speech in person? Ruined.

1) Father’s Day (Spark, 2018)

Better blow up your inflatable water wings lest you drown in the tears that flow from this beautiful story about a young boy celebrating his mother on Father’s Day. Now tear out my heart and serve it next to that adorable pancake face, please and thank you.

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