In this guest post, Ashleigh Hall, Atomic Group Business Director, explores the simplicity and strength of Movember via user-generated content and a defined target demographic with serious crossover appeal.
It’s that time of the year again, when your social media feeds are flooded by people growing all manner of moustaches – from glorious, three-day handlebars to an all-month effort that results in a few wispy blonde follicles on an upper lip, which your great aunt Agnes can outgrow.
November has rolled around, and 13 years after two mates in a pub in Melbourne had an idea, the entire month has been rebranded as Movember.
And not just in Australia – as of 2015, the Aussie charity has found serious legs in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.
Since that first month of facial hair-inspired awareness, Movember 5,232,625 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas have raised AUD $770 million and funded 1200 men’s health projects.
Their work has saved countless lives and helped to seriously kick-start the conversation around men’s health, but has managed to do so because of brilliant marketing.
A simple idea
According to the official Movember history, a discussion over recurring fashion trends and the lack of moustaches about (America may have Tom Selleck, but Australia gave the world Merv Hughes, David Boon and Chopper Reid) led to the first Movember.
As for the charity aspect? “Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, they decided to make the campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer.”
It was a gap in the market – while the whole ‘wear pink for breast cancer’ trend was rising in 2003, it had been difficult to find a similarly simple and yet effective way of both raising money and awareness for prostate cancer, which remains one of the disease’s most prevalent forms of cancer (in fact, according to recent statistics from the Australian government, prostate was “the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2012”).
Know a simple yet effective way of raising money and awareness? Growing a moustache. It’s something any bloke who’s gone through adolescence can do – and, in fact, it’s often a case of the sadder the attempt, the higher the embarrassment for the grower, and therefore the more money raised.
And since moustaches were and are (ironic hipsters aside) largely out of fashion, it leads to the inevitable question, “What’s with the mo?” This is a highly organic and non-intrusive means of spreading awareness.
And, as co-creator Adam Garone said in his 2012 Ted Talk, “those conversations, getting men engaged in this, at whatever age, is so critically important, and in my view so much more important than the funds we raise.”
Awesome user-generated content
Like so many companies and ideas that have achieved a meteoric rise since the turn of the millennium, Movember’s success has largely coincided with that of social media.
In December 2013, Sysomos found “Movember was mentioned in social channels over 1.1 million times. Mentions of Movember came up in 13,266 blog posts, 11,076 online news articles, 11,278 forum postings and 1.161,236 tweets.” They also found 914,014 pictures on Instagram tagged #Movember.
Meanwhile, stats from Topsy showed 1.5 million Movember tweets that year, with 790,000 coming from the marketing Mecca that is the United States.
It’s as simple as this really: there’s something very shareable about a picture of a man and his moustache – probably because most people look a bit daft but they’re having fun for a good cause.
And, of course, there’s about a million different puns and spins to be made from ‘Mo’, ‘moustache’ and ‘stache’, which definitely helps.
A defined target demographic with serious crossover appeal
Growing a moustache for charity is the kind of idea that has most appeal for young men, aged 18 to 35 or so. Much younger and simple hormones mean they’re not really in a position to participate, while blokes in the older range are more likely to remember Dennis Lillee in his prime, and therefore have maintained a well-cultivated ‘tache since the’ 70s.
This well-defined target demographic of young men saw Movember attract Foster’s as their initial sponsor, with razor company Schick joining the party soon after.
In the US they have picked up deals with Jeep and Jameson, the UK got Gillette on board, while the Canadian team are partnered with Xbox.
They’re all very defined, blokey products, who would be more than happy to lend their financial and brand clout to this global cause.
But Movember has gone beyond being just a movement for young men, firstly by making a big push to include the Mo Sistas, and now introducing the ‘Move Challenge’, so anyone can help raise money for the charity, regardless of their age or gender. Naturally, the images used on the Move Challenge page are predominantly of women getting active.
And it makes sense – just as men are willing to put on a pink shirt in aid of breast cancer awareness, so too are women keen to raise money and the discussion surrounding men’s health.
Finally, the other way of getting involved is by holding an event, and it’s this final aspect that really emphasises how Movember has managed to become so globally successful: at the end of the month, you have a party and awards are given for the best and worst moustaches.
Rather than dwell on disease and death, Movember is a celebration of life.