When the Make-A-Wish Foundation comes to General Motors, it's usually to ask if a kid can meet "a famous Nascar driver at a race or something," says Tom D'Angelo, national field ad manager for Cadillac in Detroit. But 14-year-old Brian Mosko—who suffers from an immune deficiency disease—had a different dream. He wanted to star in a TV ad for Cadillac or Hummer. He'd always dug high-end cars, according to his mother, but could only dream of driving them.
D'Angelo had an Escalade production slated outside Bakersfield, Calif., that called for young talent, he recalls. "The creative is about a tour bus with people in their early 20s, apparently riding gig to gig, and how an Escalade overtakes the bus, the Led Zeppelin blasting from the stereo," he says. "But I certainly didn't want anything to jeopardize the job. This is a serious campaign and media budget." But the Warren, Ohio, teenager had placed in a modeling contest, winning a SAG card, and looked old enough to play a weary roadie. The agency, Chemistri, and the director, Alan White of @radical.media, were on board.
"His acting was fine," says White. "At the end, the family thanked everyone for making it a great experience for Brian, and they were all in tears. We're hard, cynical advertising people, but that made it worthwhile." "It's pretty cool how it all worked out," said Chemistri creative director Chris McCarthy.
The ad broke on the Super Bowl postgame and will run through the year.