Movember goes brand-first

The foundation puts its purpose at the forefront, telling the stories of men who've battled cancer and mental health issues.
Ron Telpner_RealStories

Movember has always focused on bringing people together to raise funds for men’s health initiatives. However, this year’s campaign focuses a little less on growing moustaches and a little more on the actual good that facial hair brings.

This year’s campaign, “Stop Men Dying Too Young,” features six Canadian men telling their own stories about overcoming health challenges that threatened to end their lives early. While two of the videos stay true to the causes most associated with Movember – prostate and testicular cancer – the videos also tell the stories of men who have survived suicide attempts and other who face ongoing battles with anxiety and mental health issues.

Though Movemeber has mostly been associated with raising money for cancer research, it has raised awareness and funds for causes like mental health and suicide prevention in the past as well. What’s new is that Movember is putting its causes front and centre by focusing on the individuals that the foundation’s work supports.

“We’re a brand that had explosive growth, but we are still maturing,” says Kevin Edwards, country director for Canada at the Movember Foundation. “This foundation is anchored in very strong brand awareness, especially in Canada, and that’s helped us support some great causes. But there’s a point at which you need to talk about the why of the things you do, and not just the what. Now’s the time to talk to a broader audience than before so we can make it about the causes and the men we support.”

The men and their stories will be featured in a campaign that includes broadcast spots, a digital and social push and OOH ads. Broadcast spots will also focus on the different ways people can support the cause.

Australia’s Urchin led the global creative for the campaign, with local support on media coming from Carat and on digital and social channels from Sid Lee.

The approach of having men tell their stories about the health issues they’ve faced is a global concept, though Urchin worked with the foundation’s country directors to tell local stories and ensure the creative aligned with local objectives. Edwards says that while Movember was a “marketing-led” organization for a long time, that department now works in tandem with its sales and development departments to make sure the Movember brand represents the work it continues to do.

“When you see a campaign that is both local and cause-related, that is us taking a sales and marketing approach to make sure we are leading with our brand but speaking directly to our clients and customers, which are the donors,” Edwards says.

In addition to being more focused on the cause itself, the campaign is part of an ongoing goal to make the foundation’s work more inclusive.

The foundation has three ways to raise funds, from sporting a moustache (the rules have been changed to allow men to “sacrifice” their beard and shave down to mustache, instead of growing one from scratch), set fitness challenges for themselves or organize local Movember events. The focus on real people in local communities in the new campaign also expands the organization’s base of younger men to include older men and women who may have people in their lives who are dealing with these health issues, or have dealt with themselves.

While the new campaign is more serious in tone than what Canadians might be used to seeing from Movember, “having fun while doing good” is still at the core of the brand’s identity.

“The community will always find ways to have fun,” adds Jon Akerman, director of marketing and communications. “We’ll still see the community lead that, but we wanted to put the cause front and centre to balance that out, and give a lot more meaning to the brand.”