It’s November, which in the fundraising world again means “Movember.”
Originally launched in Australia, the theme for “Movember” is to get primarily men (although women can help out with a fake one) to grow a mustache or not shave for the 30 days of the month of November, and then gain dollars through pledges for growing their ‘stache. Given the always intriguing Beard-A-Thons that happen in the spring, Movember has been a natural fit for sports, and now it had gained traction from previous years, with some new fun activations as well.
At the peak of Movember’s popularity in 2012, it pulled in more than $40 million in donations in Canada alone to help fight prostate and testicular cancer and people frequently grew mustaches to show that they were part of the fundraising efforts. While the moustache remains a major part of Movember’s brand, the campaign has expanded its focus to include raising money for men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
This year the Movember Foundation is also emphasizing a new campaign focused on getting people to do more exercise. The idea is to “move” for Movember while still working on cancer awareness, now with Hockey Fights Cancer™ which the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families. The initiative gets an assist from players, coaches, officials, equipment managers, front office staff, corporate partners, and fans. Together, the hockey community looks to inspire hope and courage for those who are living with, going through and moving past cancer.
Hockey Fights Cancer was founded in 1998 by the National Hockey League® and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Since its inception, the Hockey Fights Cancer programs of the National Hockey League Foundation (in the US) and the NHL Foundation (in Canada), along with NHL® Clubs, supporters and fans, have donated more than $18 million to support the cancer programs of national and local cancer research institutions, children’s hospitals, player charities and local charities.
In 2014 Major League Soccer was on board in a big way with Movember, with clubs throughout the League growing ‘Mo’s (moustaches). Players, supporters, staff and partners were clean-shaven on November 1st and grew their moustaches throughout the month. Participants documented progress on their ‘MoSpace pages as part of the MLS Movember Network, on the Movember website. Women participated by becoming ‘Mo Sistas’ and created their own ‘MoSpaces to support the men they love.
In 2015 a host of new sports brands on both sides of the Atlantic came on board to support the initiative. One big one was adidas, who through the NFL ties enlisted the support of Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins), wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), linebacker Von Miller (Denver Broncos) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills) to join in and encourage others to do the same. In the UK, Mitre and the Football League teamed up to support the Movember charity campaign, turning out their new ball with a “Mo” all of its own. The new ball was provided to all 72 Football League clubs for their first matches of Movember and was featured in the 34 Sky Bet Football League matches that kicked-off on Saturday including Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Birmingham City and AFC Bournemouth vs Brighton & Hove Albion, both broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Last year in the States, “Movember” found a pretty unique and fun activation idea. It is a takeoff on the concept of taking boxes on a sheet for big American football games, like one would during the Super Bowl. The numbers that intersect at the end of a quarter or a half give you a win. It’s totally random and everyone plays to give added value to watching. It was called “Bet Your Balls,”and involved key soccer bars in New York; The Football Factory of Legends, Smithfield Hall, and Black Horse Pub have been hand-chosen to go up against each other to see which pub’s fans have the biggest, or most balls.
Now “Movember” has some shortcomings not the least of which is the wearing of moustaches by men and looking a little rough around facial hair has become much more acceptable, so growing and shaving moustaches is not a simple status thing for a month any more. It is not as easy to activate such a program as it is with a “Wear Pink” campaign. Also other sports, especially Major League Baseball, do activate against prostate cancer with blue bats and other events around Father’s Day each year. Also moving away from just cancer awareness to men’s health issues does have a chance at wider appeal, but there is also risk of trying to be too much to too many. There are several new and engaged partners on the brand side this year, and at the end of the day the cause marketing push is still very strong
“Movember” continues to have a good upside, with the potential of thousands of fake ‘staches being given out at games during the month, maybe even tied to Coaches vs. Cancer events in college hoops. The fake handouts are low cost and would make for great digital integration and TV. Still it does cost money to engage nationally or internationally, but with the increased interest in social media, the campaign and its awareness will amplify the message around the world.
A simple idea with a great goal, still moving and finding its way to more mainstream support