The first day of November unofficially signals the start of the holiday season, but more importantly, it’s also a time to raise awareness for men’s health by growing and maintaining a mustache no matter how mountainous the task may be.
You’ve likely heard of Movember by now, a month-long movement originally made in Australia 14 years ago. It’s since evolved into a global crusade and undertaking in which the Movember Foundation has made men rethink their physical and emotional wellbeing and forced action toward a healthier lifestyle.
To date, the Movember Foundation’s efforts have raised more than $769 million in 21 countries for 1,200 men’s health projects focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
To get a better idea of the how their brand, identity and ethos has evolved, AListDaily took a trek to the charity’s US headquarters in Culver City, California to chat with Adam Garone, co-founder of the Movember Foundation.
How has Movember’s message evolved as you’ve grown as an organization?
From a cause point of view, our vision at Movember is to holistically have an everlasting impact on the face of physical and mental health for men. We initially focused on the more extrinsic motivators as to why someone would be inspired to do Movember—fun, irreverence and getting to do it with your buddies. We really focused on that, so a lot of our creative and branding in the early years was playing to that fun, irreverent side of the brand. What we’ve realized more recently is that we can’t lose that fun edge, but we needed to focus more on the intrinsic motivators as to why someone would do Movember.
Sadly, you don’t need to look too far to know a friend, brother, father or uncle that’s been affected by one of the issues that we focus on. It’s a great way for us to bring in more women as well because they all have men in their lives that are important to them. We put the cause first more recently with the tagline ‘Stop Men Dying Too Young.’ This year there was the addition of ‘You can be the difference in a man’s life.’ It’s really helped emphasize the importance of the work that we do and the cause that we’re focused on.
How would you describe your brand marketing strategy?
In my mind, every aspect of the organization helps define the brand. It’s no longer about a font, color and a positioning statement. Every community touchpoint is an opportunity to reinforce who we are as an organization, and what our brand means. Right from the get-go, the Movember brand is at the heart of everything that we do. How we project that brand is ultimately why people are inspired to join the movement. It’s so important to keep the brand relevant and fresh each year, and keep evolving, keep pushing the boundaries. Ultimately, it’s not what we think about the brand that’s important, it’s about what the community and the public think about our brand. That’s really what defines who we are and what we stand for.
A big part of our brand also is our culture and open-office environment. The true rock stars of Movember are the Mo Bros and Mo Sisters that join us each year. A unique part of our space in Culver City is that we also have the Movember barbershop attached to it. It’s a great touchpoint for people to experience the brand and a way for us to engage the community around us and have conversations. That’s how we see our role in this great movement.
Why are procuring brand partnerships just as important to reaching your goals?
Brand partnerships and alignment are very important, and they also define our brand as well, so we’re very selective in that process. Where the partnerships work best is when their target market and consumer truly believe in Movember and the cause that we’re serving. We’ve always called our partnership program just that—a partnership. It’s not about sponsorships. Sponsorships are typically more transactional, where a brand will give you money for a certain amount of exposure. We’ve always looked for deep, true and authentic engagement from the brands that we partner with. Do they believe in the cause? Are they participating internally? Is there a brand alignment? Is their target market similar to ours?
Our major partners bring us something that we don’t have. We don’t have a huge marketing spend, so the first thing we look for is authenticity, but secondly, how can they help us reach new men and women to get engaged and inspired by the campaign? How can they reward those people participating with prizing and other rewards along the way? How can they help us fundraise? We have a partnerships team, and we’ve developed a policy about who we will partner with and who we won’t. Oftentimes, what you say ‘no’ to defines you more than what you say ‘yes’ to.
Why do you believe brands are increasingly leaning toward cause marketing?
I think all brands are looking for opportunities where they can truly and authentically demonstrate how they’re making this world a little bit better. Why brands come and partner with Movember is largely because of the halo effect of the brand association with us and the cause that we’re serving. It gives them something else to talk about with their community. It’s not just a new product release, or a new sale or asking people to buy more of their product—it’s a bigger and deeper story.
How are you reaching the community and new audiences through social channels this year?
We’re all about inspiring conversations and stories that matter. We’ve definitely got our own profile stories, but that only reaches a certain amount of people. I often think that the most important social networking is getting people to come together. It’s a shared experience—old-school social networking is just so powerful, if not more powerful now than it was a few years ago when we didn’t have all these social platforms. It’s all about having fun and doing good. In addition, we do an Unmute Ask Him campaign through social media. Everything we do at Movember has a deeper meaning, and we can’t ever lose the fun aspect.
How are you incorporating storytelling into your cross-channel strategy?
We’re always looking for new, interesting and innovative ways to tell our stories, and the podcast I host is just one of those elements. We invite men to talk about the ups and downs of life. The importance of discussion and being vulnerable draws listeners. Podcasts are a unique medium where we can have extended conversations with inspirational people. The whole aim of the podcast is to get men talking about the real stuff going on in their lives and give listeners some tools and tips on how they can live a happier, healthier and ultimately longer life.
How cool is it when you start seeing celebrities support the cause by growing mustaches too?
It’s always cool when you see someone wearing your product and talking about your product. It’s amazing when you see the likes of LeBron James or Aaron Rogers wearing your brand and talking about it. Their reach is enormous, but each year we consider everyone that’s part of the Movember community, every Mo Bro and Mo Sister to be a celebrity and an ambassador because they’re out in their communities and networks talking about the cause as well. Those conversations are just amazing and often life-changing.
What does Movember do for the rest of the year outside of the month of November?
Movember is a year-round conversation, and like every other foundation, we’re running thousands of programs that are having a real impact. The month of November is our key focus. It’s Men’s Health Awareness Month, but that conversation has to exist year-round, and we have other moments during the year that we focus on, like World Cancer Day in February and Testicular Cancer Awareness Month in April. We do a program leading into Father’s Day, as well as Suicide Prevention Day in September.
What is your long-term strategy? What’s next for Movember?
We’ve established some goals that we want to achieve by 2030, and that’s to reduce the number of deaths by prostate and testicular cancer by 50 percent and to reduce the number of male suicides by 25 percent. It’s only 25 percent because, at the moment, we’re losing that battle and the rates are going up, so it’s a huge turnaround to achieve that. That’s why we exist. To be able to achieve those goals we need to keep the brand alive, the community energized and keep them fundraising and advocating on our behalf.
Also, taking the power of that grassroots movement to governments, to world health organizations, and have them prioritize men’s health, particularly suicide prevention. We’re absolutely focused on men and inspiring men to be better and in doing that, we know that we’ll flow onto women’s health and women’s rights too. We’re also feminists and we care deeply about those issues as well.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams envision ending up where you are today?
There’s no way I thought after we grew those first mustaches in 2003 that this would become a global thing. It’s humbling to see it continue to evolve as an organization and as a brand. Sometimes in life, you have these happy accidents.