Movember aims to celebrate all kinds of “mos”

The men's health charity kickstarts this year's fundraising push by showcasing the diverse moustaches of its supporters.


It’s officially November, when men’s moustaches make their sudden, noticeable return. The goal is the same among those sporting a “mo” in support of Movember, the global men’s health charity that is now in its sixteenth annual fundraising push, even though the results vary from one “Mo Bro” to the next.

There are the “darn-good” and epic ones, thick and carefully groomed. Others are itchy, patchy and lopsided, while others are merely symbolic – painted on a finger by a supportive Mo Sista, for example. In the end, no matter how they turn out, Movember wants to remind participants that their moustaches help rise awareness and funds in support of men’s health.

That’s the idea behind “Whatever You Grow Will Save A Bro,” the multifaceted, month-long global fundraising campaign that launches today. While led out of the U.K., the campaign includes Canadian-specific elements intended to resonate more strongly with local audiences.

A global PSA running in Canada, called “Facial Facts,” features a group of celebrities, including British comedian Stephen Fry, adventurer and survival expert Bear Grylls and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, relaying humorously false “facts” about the power of moustaches.

The goal is to celebrate the diversity of men and their moustaches, while showcasing the men and women who make up the Movember community, allowing participants to see themselves in the campaign, says Karli Kirkpatrick, the charity’s Canadian marketing director.

The Canadian marketing team offered input for the global work, collaborating on the script and on the development of the “moustached identities.” In the end, three Canadian men (two from Ontario and one from Alberta) are featured in OOH creative, as well as the television commercial, and will be featured in behind-the-scenes vignettes of the campaign shoot, with the goal of helping viewers connect more deeply with their stories and the larger campaign, according to Kirkpatrick.

The overall concept, she says, was based on the insight that “some men want to support the charity but feel self-conscious about the kind of moustache they will be able to grow, or its perceived inadequacy.”

Among the thousands of pieces of artwork created globally, including some customizations done for partners like the NHL, the Canadian campaign includes digital OOH, transit, radio and TV broadcast, cinema, as well as online video and digital, in both English and French. Special executions have been developed for partners like Sportsnet and ET Canada, and Movember worked with Rogers on a “Real Stories” series (voiced by talent from its own stations) that share the stories behind the campaign.

Movember-OOH“We’ve pursued a very integrated approach to ensure that the creative was given the spaces it needs to really come alive,” Kirkpatrick says.

Among a collection of stories available on Movember’s global YouTube channel is that of Sam Corbett, the drummer for Saskatoon-based band The Sheepdogs. Corbett was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2018, months before his wife was due to have their first child. Launching Nov. 1 during a segment on Corus’ ET Canada, the video was produced internally by Movember’s Canadian content manager, Chelsea Blazer.

As a charity, Movember raises funds for three primary causes – prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide prevention – with the goal of reducing the number of men who die prematurely by 25% by 2030. In Canada, one in nine men are diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime (11 die from the disease every day); testicular cancer remains the most common cancer in young men (with 8,000 men estimated to be living with or beyond a testicular cancer diagnosis); and three out of four suicides are among men, making it the second-largest cause of death for males aged 15 to 44, according to Movember.

Movember-MoveEarly on, Movember focused its efforts on getting men to grow a moustache during the month of November. Over time, it has grown into an always-on organization and has added new ways for participants to raise funds, including running or walking 60 kilometres over the course of the month (for the 60 men lost to suicide each hour around the world) or organizing an event, such as a trivia night, pot luck or group shave.

For this reason, Kirkpartrick says, other elements of the campaign focus on those alternative fundraising methods. Digital ads, for example, include portraits of those who “move” and those who “host” (and who are conspicuously moustache-less).

Global creative was developed and produced by U.K. agency MATTA, with UM overseeing media as Movember’s agency of record. With a media plan that includes donated space, the overall marketing budget is consistent with its 2018 spend, according to Kirkpatrick.