How Movember is trying to drive year-round relevance

Getting Auston Matthews to shave his mo' is one way the non-profit is keeping conversations going outside of November.
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Movember is best known for getting men to grow moustaches, but this year it has enlisted Toronto Maple Leafs’ superstar Auston Matthews to flip the script on its annual fundraiser as part of the non-profit’s broader goal of wanting to drive year-round relevance.

Matthews is prepared to part with his famous moustache for a price – $134,000, to be exact. Funds raised will be donated to the global men’s health charity and programs related to prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Matthews formally launched his call to donate last week on Instagram, through a “mean tweets”-style video, where he reads respondents’ messages aloud about what they think of his moustache.

“A big part of Movember is having fun while doing good. And given Auston’s personality, we wanted to make sure the piece was fun and in line with his humour, while driving back to the good that his infamous ‘Mo’ and fans could do for the cause,” says Karli Kirkpatrick, marketing director at Movember. The video has more than 194,000 views so far.

While the primary goal of the campaign is to drive fundraising through the rest of November, it ladders up to the organization’s broader objective of cultivating year-round relevancy.

November is still the organization’s biggest push, signing on H&M, L’Oreal, Longo’s and Jack & Jones as brand partners. Personal care brand CW Beggs and Sons is donating $1 from every purchase to Movember – $5 for purchases of holiday packages in a “gift that gives back” approach – while SToK Cold Brew has its own social influencer campaign with comedian Trey Richards and chef Sean MacDonald focusing on the importance of men opening up to each other about mental health. But Kirkpatrick says the pandemic expedited the organization’s transition into more of a year-round effort.

“Prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention – those things don’t stop all of a sudden just because November is over,” she says, adding how the suicide rate for men is three times higher than that of women, and that one-in-nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes.

Kirkpatrick also cited the organization’s May report, which found that although eight out of 10 Canadian men find it helpful when people ask if they’re having a difficult time, 40% said no one asked how they were coping during the pandemic – further emphasizing the need for year-round relevance.

In April, Movember pivoted an entire testicular awareness campaign to a mental health awareness campaign, given the detrimental impacts on mental health during the pandemic. The organization also expedited the launch of “Movember Conversations” and “The Social Connection Challenge.” “Movember Conversations” were intended to launch in 2021, and the connection challenge was expected to launch later this year. The two programs are related to mental health, as the former is a free interactive digital tool offering practical mental health guidance, and the latter is focusing on finding, partnering and developing ideas that will strengthen social connections and help address isolation.

“Movember Conversations” was promoted via social channels, and a paid digital campaign in May. For the connection challenge, the organization put a call-out via social media –as well as direct public outreach, and on the Movember website, and through researcher relationships – for innovative digital or tech-based ideas that would help address feelings of loneliness, isolation and improve social connectedness in men.

Movember will be relying more on organic amplification of the campaign, given Matthews’ social media following. Budget was not a factor as to why Movember went the organic amplification route, as the brand thought it was a good enough narrative to get attention on its own and that Matthews’ channels would be stronger than the brand’s in boosting the campaign and generating awareness. Movember will also use organic PR efforts, through FreshPR. The creative strategy and development were handled by Alibi Content.

UM Canada handled the media planning and buying against the campaign.