Growing A Mo: Lessons Learned From The Movember Project

Were any of your colleagues or friends sporting awkward moustaches until recently? If so, it’s likely they were among the thousands of Mo-Bros taking part in the worldwide Movember movement committed to raising funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Those awkward moustaches were unavoidable at my office. My company has been an active and proud participant for the past four years; last month more than 80 participants and hundreds of contributors helped raise $38,000 as part of Acquia’s "Mo Drupal" team this year. 

The success of Movember is no fluke. From its founding a decade ago in Melbourne, the Movember moustache has expanded to more than two dozen countries. In fact, it’s the simple act of growing a moustache that has encouraged several hundred thousand men around the world to become walking billboards for the — quite literal — face of men’s health, an extremely successful strategy that has helped the annual fundraiser gain momentum. These “Mo Bros” (and their ever-supportive and patient Mo Sistas) raise awareness by prompting private and public conversations about men’s health. They also raise an amazing amount of funds for programs that support men’s health initiatives; Movember donations this year surpassed $106 million worldwide.



According to Mark Hedstrom, the U.S. director for the effort, “Movember is about getting men to engage in a fun and somewhat irreverent campaign. By supporting a fun environment, men start engaging more in their personal health.”

So how has the Movember Foundation had so much success engaging such a vast group of men? Let’s take a look at the top three things: language, competition and keeping it fun. 

Words Matter

Market research shows that words like “support” and “help” don’t resonate with men the same way they may with women. Additionally, the Movember Foundation’s research indicates that men are less likely to broach the topics of prostate and testicular cancer.

Because of this, Hedstrom has paid special attention to the voice and tone the Movember Foundation uses. For example, Movember encourages men to know their numbers and know their family history. Tracking key health numbers and keeping them in expected ranges lowers men’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many types of cancer. And being attentive to Movember’s simple and direct message provides context for men to share in their own private and public conversations. 

The Movember movement provides a more appealing, if somewhat “itchier,” context in which men can engage in conversations about their health.

Tap into Men’s Competitive Nature

Movember’s fundraising mission creates a perfect opportunity to provide a platform for competition. The Movember website features up-to-date leaderboards for top fundraisers by country, team, region, and even individual. There are even network leaderboards to group teams that share common interests. The “game” aspect is a big part of what makes Movember successful; Hedstrom says marketers will do well to discover how to tap into the natural desire to win. 

Men are predisposed to compete, whether it’s in the boardroom, the playing field, or the fantasy football pool. “Anyone should look to tap into that in the right way, competitive streak, for social good,” Hedstrom said. 

Keep it Simple and Fun

The simple act of growing a moustache and taking heat for how ridiculous a two-week-old mo can look (apologies to those men who willingly choose to sport a moustache) creates a very effective context for getting men involved in the project year after year. Successful campaigns that look to engage a male audience are likely to parallel some of the energy and simple creativity of the Movember movement. 

“We’re supporting a fun environment. If men are going to talk about their personal health, they’re going to do so in a barbershop, at a bar or sporting event. We’re giving them simple tools that gets them into the conversation, one that gets them further engaged with their friends and family,” Hedstrom said.

Next story loading loading..