By all technical standards, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds is more than a member of the rock and roll community. His indie-pop-rock band is about to continue a worldwide tour and is up for potential second and third Grammys at the awards show this Sunday.
But that doesn’t mean Reynolds doesn’t still sees major issues within the creative industry, especially its long-standing problematic love of cigarettes. In his most recent venture into activism, the singer has teamed up with the largest youth smoking prevention campaign, truth, for a spot set to air during the Grammys. And Billboard has the exclusive first look:
The commercial itself tackles the social issue of big tobacco companies specifically targeting lower-income families, who make up 72 percent of the remaining smoking population. This is a tactic the singer told us he has seen first-hand, growing up as one of nine kids in Las Vegas.
“They’re taking someone who is already set up to have a difficult life ahead of them, and putting them back even 10 steps further. It’s just heartless,” Reynolds said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 24).
As for his own involvement in the commercial, the celebrity endorsement is a marketing tactic that he fully believes in. Reynolds didn’t want to come off as “holier than thou,” but he said he still remembers the impact his favorite musicians had on him during his own formative years.
“I grew up worshiping Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain and the posters were all over my walls, and I feel like a lot of these musicians who’ve passed on, I can’t speak on their behalf, but I think a lot of them if they could…would do all that they could to change the face of this industry as one of substance abuse,” Reynolds said. “I’m down for everything else with rock and roll — the spirit of it, the sex of it, I love everything about [it], except the drug use. And cigarettes seem to go hand in hand with rock and roll aesthetically, and this needs to change. This needs to stop.”
For Truth Initiative — the national public health organization behind the truth campaign, known for its orange logo and prolific portfolio of hard-hitting commercials — Reynolds was an obvious choice as their latest celebrity partner.
“For us, if you really want to shape and challenge cultural norms, it’s important for us to stand next to people who are doing the same thing: people who are shaping culture,” Chief Marketing Officer Eric Asche said. “I mean, you don’t have to look very far into Dan Reynolds background to see that he is passionate about social issues, he’s passionate about communities that have been marginalized or exploited, and we share a lot of common ground with him in particular.”
The campaign will air during the Grammys on Sunday, the same night Imagine Dragons could add to their award collection. “It’s just been such a fantastic year for the band that I think we all just feel very blessed and grateful,” he said.