Movember makes a doc about a Toronto drag queen

The non-profit's first Pride campaign aims to broaden the conversation around men's physical and mental health.

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Movember Canada debuted a new documentary-style film in celebration of Pride month, bringing increased attention to its support of the LGBTQ+ community.

The short film, From Jason to Jezebel, was produced in house and features Jason Pelletier, a Toronto drag queen who performs under the name Jezebel Bardot. Pelletier describes his path from a small town in Quebec to the big city, while reflecting on the nature of masculinity and the role it has played in his journey.

Movember has been active during the Toronto Pride parade, as well as other regional Pride events in Canada, for the last two years. But the bulk of that work has consisted of programs supporting members of the community through Movember’s Social Innovators Challenge, a program that funds projects aimed at strengthening social connections for men across Canada, Australia and the U.K.

Over the last few years, it has run “m.bodiment,” a program executed by the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust that included a video series on masculinity and gendered spaces and featured a broad spectrum of people who identify as men. Another project, named Omega Access, included three videos whose goal was to “debunk stereotypes around masculinity by celebrating men with healthy and alternative identities lifestyles and personal strengths,” according to Movember’s website.

The release of From Jason to Jezebel marks the first time it has run its own campaign on the subject, says Karli Kirkpatrick, Movember’s Canadian marketing director.

“We have definitely been present in the space for years now and supporting members of the LGBTQ community,” she says. “But this is the first year that we’ve done something that isn’t just programs-related and is more about opening the conversation of Movember and our men’s health messaging in a broader way.”

As a global men’s health charity active in Canada since 2007, Kirkpatrick says the organization believes it is important to recognize that men’s health “touches everyone, across all spectrums of orientation and identity, because prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide don’t discriminate across any of those lines. They affect all men equally.”

Through launching a video about Jezebel Bardot, Movember is hoping its men’s health messaging will reach all Canadians, but especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, to show that they’re an important part of the Movember community, Kirkpatrick says. Again, she adds, the idea is to highlight that “our cause areas don’t discriminate. In fact, when it comes to the mental health piece as well, it disproportionately affects men in this community.”

The Canadian-led video was shared with Movember’s offices in the U.K. and the U.S., though not Australia, where the charity was born. Today, most of Movember’s marketing is handled in-house. For its main fundraising campaign in October and November, it’s handling strategic planning internally, but leaning on U.K.-based agency Matta for the creative (typically, that component is led out of Australia). Locally, Movember works with UM on media planning.

In recent years, the men’s health charity has aimed to be more inclusive with its marketing, such as with 2017’s “Stop Men Dying Too Young” campaign, which featured a more diverse range of supporters, including its core audience’s female friends and partners.

“I think, historically, our image hasn’t been seen as inclusive, even though our programming has been really inclusive,” Kirkpatrick says.

This year and in future years, she says Movember is moving towards becoming more of a “365, always-on organization.” In recent years, it has run marketing campaigns around Testicular Cancer Awareness month in April, as well as Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, because the global rate of male suicide is “alarmingly high,” with roughly eight men per day taking their own lives in Canada. It’s also working on research with Ipsos, to be released towards the end of the summer, that focused on social connectivity and isolation in fathers.

Being active throughout the year has helped Movember address one of its key challenges, according to Kirkpatrick. While the charity has strong brand awareness in Canada, many people still don’t understand the breadth of causes it supports. “The year-round piece has really helped us to be able to drive that understanding throughout the population.”

Last year, Movember raised AUD$17.7 million in Canada through a total of 56,000 participants, up from the $15.5 million raised locally the year before. Globally, it raised AUD$88.0 million last year, up from $79.8 million the year before, though global participation was down by around 23,000 people in 2017.