Movember Gathers Big Mo

Once again, Mr. Clean is not Mr. Clean Shaven -- at least for the month of November. As he first did last year, the bald-pated icon has joined the worldwide Movember movement, which started in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 and is beginning to show definition in the U.S., of men sporting mustache’s for 30 days to raise awareness to prostate cancer. 

This year, Mr. Clean’s brother brand in the Procter & Gamble brood, Gillette, is joining the cause. 

“Gillette is proud to support this global charitable movement by kicking off the eMO'gency Styler Tour, a quest to help men master their most stylish Mo's,” reads a press release announcing the alliance. “Making pit stops in New York City (Nov. 13), Chicago (Nov. 16), and Houston (Nov. 20), the Mo' squad will provide complimentary curbside fine tuning and styling services with the go-to mo' grooming tool, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, a 3-in-1 facial hair styling tool that trims evenly, shaves closely and edges accurately.”

André 3000 Benjamin (you may know him as Dré), one of the brand’s “Masters of Style,” will be part of the New York festivities. “This is a great example of how your personal style delivers a message, and I hope young men across the country elect to participate,” he says in the statement.

In London, Gillette has launched a 1940s-style barbershop on Carnaby Street that offers “participating ‘Mo Bros’ free ’tache touch ups’ throughout November,” according to Rosie Baker in the UK’s Marketing Week. “The barbers will also serve as a ‘gentleman’s club’ with a bar and games room where visitors can play traditional ‘gentlemanly pastimes’ such as poker, backgammon, chess, Ping Pong and pool.”

“The good folks at ol’ Mr. Clean are really screwing with a sacred cow,” Text 100’s Sean Audet wrote when Mr. Clean’s involvement in Movember was announced last year. “Whoever walked into the CEO’s office with this stache idea definitely had some cojones.” But Mr. Clean turned out to be a “pretty popular social media figure,” Audet points out, offering a lesson for other marketers. 

“I think it’s because his voice is just inherently human. We as communications professionals tend to mutate into our stiff-as-nails, take-no-chances, please-the-man professional voices the minute we march through the office doors every morning,” he writes. “We effectively lock away our inner Mr. Clean for the day.” 

Meanwhile, the Wahl Clipper Co. has supported the cause in the U.S. since 2009, Jack Neff reports in Ad Age this morning. “Via agency HY Connect, Milwaukee, Wahl is backing its effort with ads on us.movember.com and 15-second spots in Times Square,” he writes.

The Movember message is still a bit murky on these shores where, for one thing, “mo” is not widely used as a slang word for mustache. Then, in a piece about a weekly live-music benefit called “Manimal for Movember" at the Spare Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a bar cum gaming parlor and bowling alley, the Los Angeles Times Reed Johnson asks: “What's any of this got to do with bowling, male facial hair or testicular cancer prevention?” Well, nothing really, since prostate cancer and testicular cancer are two different beasts. Let’s consider it a teachable moment.

Movember co-founder Adam Garone spilled the beans on the origins of Movember in a TED Talk. Unlike most charities that have their origins with someone starting an altruistic organization after having been personally impacted, Movember got it’s start with a bunch of Aussies lads indulging in a bunch of beers and coming up with the “fun” idea of reviving the Seventies and Eighties fashion of facial hair. It wasn’t until the next year, when they decided to do it again, that they cast about for a way to “legitimize” it and attached the idea to prostate cancer awareness.

Speaking as a “survivor” of all three inflictions -- too much beer drinking, prostate cancer and mustache growing -- the latter is definitely the least pernicious but I just haven’t been able to convince myself it’s an effective way to spread an important message. Maybe next year. In the meantime, there are other ways to show support for research toward eradicating a disease that afflicts about 2 million men in the U.S. and kills about 28,000 annually.

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