Movember marketing moustaches

Movember started from an idea between a few guys in a pub and has grown into an international fundraising sensation. What makes it so popular?

Movember is a fundraiser that takes place every November, where men pledge to grow out moustaches to raise money for men’s health causes. All starting from a chat between a few friends in a pub, it has since become a global fundraising machine. It began with humble goals — getting 30 people to grow out their ‘staches for a month — so we know that its creators did not have an idea of the worldwide potential their idea had.

Like many viral phenomenons, it grew organically, tapping into something that resonated with a lot of people. Here’s a look at why their idea unintentionally became a worldwide phenomenon, which can hopefully spark some ideas on how you can replicate it for your own projects.

  • It fills a niche
    Men don’t have a cause they can rally around — there is no “breast cancer awareness month” for guys. By positioning itself as a “manly cause”, Movember gives men something unique and meaningful to celebrate, making moustaches the equivalent of pink ribbons.
  • It’s universally funny
    There’s something funny and entertaining about moustaches (nobody knows why, but it probably has something to do with Tom Selleck). A lot of Movember campaigns capitalize on this and center on the idea that almost everyone finds moustaches inherently amusing. It’s like videos of cute babies on YouTube — they’re fun to share because it taps into something everyone can enjoy.
  • It’s effortlessly viral
    Other fundraisers typically recruit its participants to do something high-profile (and high effort): running a marathon or shaving your hair. The nature of Movember, on the other hand, makes it effortless to share with your friends. It turns anyone who participates into a walking, talking billboard. Instead of getting you to send a mass email to friends asking for donations, it achieves virality by piggybacking on an activity that you already do: uploading pictures of yourself on Facebook.
  • It’s super social
    By setting up a high-visibility website with well-executed social features and encouraging partners to make Movember-themed Facebook apps, Movember enables participants to spread the word on their own. They’ve set up marketing channels to focus on creating connections between its participants.
  • Its target demographic is perfect
    Moustache-growing males are a perfect target demographic for potential partners. It’s a no-brainer that Foster’s and Schick are sponsors of Movember. These companies have major marketing budgets that further legitimize Movember and push its awareness beyond what they could normally get as a non-profit.
  • The marketing team at Movember has a great product on their hands: it’s a cause that has a lot of cool things baked into it. Their marketing materials are still missing a level of polish, but the cause is so viral that it doesn’t really matter. It’s something they will figure out as their brand matures.

    Compared to other fundraisers, it’s smart that they’ve chosen to focus on the fun, positive aspects of fundraising, as opposed to the typical approach of tugging at your heartstrings. The logical next step is for them is to run with this angle and create mascots and spokespersons for the brand, localized across countries. There’s a trend in “manly” mascots these days — Old Spice and Dos Equis come to mind — so it’s easy to see a Movember mascot being a hit.

    Think about how you can make these factors work for your campaigns and squeeze more efficiency out of your budget.