Does something seem a little different to you this month? You may not have been able to put a finger on it at first, but then you realized there seemed to be a lot more men with mustaches walking around. The mustaches come in all shapes and sizes but have one thing in common – they are part of a growing effort to change November to “Movember.” Even better, these mustaches are meant to get men talking about prostate cancer in a fun and unique way. With roots in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 and a rapid growth globally, including to the U.S. in 2007, Movember is one of the hottest cause movements of recent note. In just eight short years, more than 1.1 million participants have helped raise $174 million and countless conversations about the cause.
I decided to join in on the fun this year along with some friends and colleagues. Based on my experience, here are a few observations on why Movember has been so successful:
1. Owning a niche – It is well-established that consumers care about supporting causes more than ever, but much of the focus has been on women. The most visible causes are female-focused (breast cancer), and women play a leading role in family health conversations and spending, but we men have often felt a bit left behind when it comes to causes. Movember speaks directly and uniquely to us through one of the most lasting and recognizable symbols of masculinity – our facial hair.
2. Having fun – Like other edgy campaigns, including the Colon Cancer Action Alliance’s Undy 5000 and Rethink Breast Cancer’s Your Man Reminder App, Movember has recognized that pushing the envelope can help nonprofits to break through the cause clutter. It also helps them connect with Millennials, in particular, who are much more comfortable with serious social issues being discussed in humorous, provocative or smart ways.
3. Using social media – We know that humor and sex are also popular topics of discussion in social media and content that is very likely to be shared. Who doesn’t want to see photos of their friends with goofy looking mustaches? Movember has individual fundraising pages for participants and online Mo Community pages where you can check out the Mo Lodge, post and view photos and videos, track global participation and fundraising, and share personal stories. All registration and donation pages have easy links to social media and pre-populated content making it easy and fun to spread the word.
4. Engaging great partners – Movember has wisely chosen partners to support the effort, including beneficiaries like the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Livestrong, and numerous lifestyle and fashion brands like TOMS, Five Four, Threadless and PalmerCash that have similar audiences and brand attributes. These organizations understand Movember and their supporters are more than happy to join the cause.
So, as Movember comes to a close, ladies – please be a Mo Sista and thank that man you see with the cool mustache, and guys – think about joining in on the fun as a Mo Bro next year!
Chris Mann is an Account Director in Cone Communications’ Cause Branding group. You can check out his mustache and donate to his Movember efforts here.