SunTrust has released an interesting new ad from Agency D7 about parents who are planning retirement for three, including their live-at-home autistic son. It's notable because the actor playing the son actually has autism, and isn't just playing the role of an autistic person. His name is Patrick Storey, and he's a student at Performing Arts Studio West in Los Angeles. In a behind-the-scenes video (posted below, along with the 30-second spot), Patrick's father Jim says: "I think that using a person who's autistic to play a person who's autistic, as opposed to asking somebody else to come in and pretend to be autistic, is terrific. To me, that's the most important thing of all." (In the ad, Patrick's parents are played by other actors.) SunTrust consumer marketing director Emmet Burns says it's an example of the company "concentrating on the real-life circumstances, the real challenges that clients face." Knowing the background, it's certainly an affecting spot. There's an element of self-congratulation in the companion video, but that's to be expected—and doesn't feel overly cynical. People with disabilities have been making inroads into all kinds of marketing work recently—including severalmodels with Down syndrome who've gotten high-profile modeling work.
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