The Lumineers Lend Their Sound to Haunting Ad About Addiction

Animated short from DiMassimo Goldstein

The Lumineers' yearning "Salt and the Sea" provides the moody background for a 3-D animated short stressing empathy and human connection in the face of drug abuse.

DiMassimo Goldstein and Bonfire director Aron Baxter created the 75-second film for the nonprofit Partnership to End Addiction. It's an unsettling but ultimately hopeful tale, as parents and their troubled offspring seek to the bridge the communication gap, which takes the form of a fiery earthquake and menacing tentacle-vines:

Start with Connection | Partnership to End Addiction

The project holds deep meaning for several participants whose lives were scarred by drugs. Bonfire founder and co-creative director Brendan O'Neil went through recovery and details his journey in this post. The Lumineers' third album, released a year ago, dealt with addition ("Salt and the Sea" closes the set), and, as a teenager, band member Jeremiah Fraites lost his brother to a heroin overdose:


We’re honored to have “Salt And The Sea” from III featured in @partnershiptoendaddiction’s new broadcast campaign. This campaign hit close to home. I lost my older brother Joshua to a heroin drug overdose when he was just 19 years old back in 2001. I was only 14 at the time, essentially having to grow up overnight after a life-changing event like that. To steal the words from Gabor Mate, we shouldn't be asking: 'why the addiction?' but rather, 'why the pain?' Fast forward 15 years and there I was making the decision myself to become sober from alcohol. I have my wife @francesca_laz to thank for that - she said ‘don’t do it for me, but do it for yourself.’ I wanted to share this anecdote with you because I know someone out there reading this right now is struggling and going through a hard time. I wanted to share this with you because whatever reason you’re going to give to get sober, just make it a damn good one. - @jeremiahfraites To end addiction, #startwithconnection. Link in stories to learn more ⬆

A post shared by The Lumineers (@thelumineers) on

What's in a name?

The agency drew inspiration from the client's moniker, says creative chief Mark DiMassimo. "That was so bold and so confident, to put a mission in its name—to end addiction," he says. "A lot of people think that's not possible, but we have the science and the knowledge to do so, if they were only applied."

Building on that foundation, the shop developed a scenario in which family connections hold the key, even though relationships can often become strained in homes struggling with addiction. The Partnership works with families to build healthy, healing, drug-free households. Animation delivers that message in vibrant fashion, free from the constraints of live-action storytelling, DiMassimo says.

Bringing the notion to life.

The team crafted the film entirely in CGI, with its human figures based on artists' wooden models. The work targets parents of tweens, teens and adult children, casting a wide net in the age of Covid-19, with different generations stuck together at home, explains DiMassimo executive creative director Paul Fix.

As for the choice of music, "Salt and the Sea" tells the "emotional story of struggle and the deep longing for a resolution—a feeling many families battling addiction can relate to," says agency design chief Claudia Mark. "The lyric, 'I'll be your friend in the daylight again,' was the perfect crescendo to our parents' determinedly reaching out to their children. It gave the spot that moment of hope it needed."

Creative serendipity.

"The participation of the Lumineers was incredibly serendipitous," Fix says. "We were searching for music that was inspired by struggles with addiction. We came across their stunning album III, and thought, well, that would be amazing—but probably not possible. When we mentioned it to our client as an inspiration for musical direction, the Partnership's CEO Creighton Drury said, 'Oh, they approached us a year ago to work with us.' We worked with their artist management teams, and after weeks of fingers crossed, they not only gave us permission, but posted on their social channels about the work."

The video—with a vibe similar to VLMY&R's animated effort for Viagra Connect—will appear on broadcast TV and various digital platforms. Other elements, posted below, are running in The New York Times and parent-focused media:


Partnership to End Addiction (Client)
Chief Executive Officer – Creighton Drury
Chief Marketing Officer – Emily Moyer
Vice President, Head of Communications – Andrea Roley
Director, Advertising and Production – Rebecca Shaw
Vice President, Media – Beth Jeffrey
Director, Print Media – Helshi Lockwood
Director of Social Media –Candice Besson
Associate Director, Media Relations – Catherine Saavedra
Vice President, Content and Editorial – Denise Young Farrell
Director, Digital Engagement – Ilana Kavadlo
Associate Director, Communications and Content – Hannah Freedman
Senior Marketing Designer – Claire Kelly
Director, Content Marketing – Sarah Royal
Email Marketing Specialist – Valerie Kirby
Data Analyst/Senior Research Associate – Sarah Forthal
Consumer Health Content Specialist – Morgan Wu

DiMassimo Goldstein

Mark DiMassimo – Chief Creative
Paul Fix - Executive Creative Director
Chris Martin - Creative Director
Claudia Mark - Head of Design & Creative Director
Trevor Hickey - Associate Creative Director
Katheryn Renfroe - Associate Creative Director
Matt Peters - Associate Design Director
Jordan Rooney - Senior Designer
Ernest Chan - Junior Art Director

Karen Tomlin - Director of Integrated Production
Quentin Webb - Studio Director

Julia Yale - Director of Integrated Marketing
Kyle Ortman - Senior Brand Manager
Patrick Sneeden - Brand Manager

Bonfire VFX
Creative Director: Aron Baxter
Co-Creative Director: Brendan O'Neil
Managing Director: Jason Mayo
Senior Producer: Tierney Farrell

CG Partner (Juice)
Art Director: Hanna Czyżewska
Supervisor: Jakub Wrzalik
Producer: Olga Rabiecka

JSM MUSIC – Music Supervision & Sound Design
Joel Simon – CCO/CEO
Jeff Fiorello – VP/Executive Producer
Nathan Kil-Sound Design

Gramercy Post
Studio Manager – James Spano
Mixer – Siara Spreen

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