When I awoke on Friday morning to several sponsorship email requests from friends and family, I was reminded that it was that time of year again…
Originating in Melbourne back in 2003, Movember was established as an awareness campaign for prostate cancer, which has since grown into a global phenomenon.
The concept is simple – on 1st November each year, Movember’s registrants begin their month-long journey of questionable facial hair, with friends and family sponsoring their efforts. Not only has it proven a fantastic campaign for inciting worldwide awareness of a previously ‘taboo’ but extremely significant health topic, it has also become a sterling example of modern-day marketing. A fun and quirky concept, its beauty lies in the fact that anyone can get involved (yes even us ladies!)
The results speak for themselves – below shows its staggering year on year growth, in both number of participants and money raised.
So how has Movember become one of the world’s most successful charity marketing campaigns? Ultimately, it has thrived as a result of its simplicity, originality and clever balance between humour and the underlying serious message that resonates with the global majority.
There are of course a series of key marketing activities which have helped it along the way:
Renowned for being one of the most powerful marketing tools available, celebrities' involvement in Movember has not only raised awareness of the charity but made it a ‘cool’ thing to be involved in.
With celebs all over the globe, from the likes of Ryan Reynolds to Stephen Fry, sharing their progress the number of Mo-bros is undoubtedly going to increase.
In order to remain fresh and re-engage their followers, Movember creates a new campaign with new content each year. For example, last year's campaign, “Movember and Sons,” encouraged fathers to pass on words of wisdom to their sons, with sons reciprocating by giving back men's health tips. This strategy enables new creative content to be constantly produced and shared to keep the campaign alive.
Social media has also given Movember a global platform to share this interesting and humorous content. This has ranged from using Youtube (where a search for ‘Movember’ renders around 94,000 results) to the creation of insightful infographics, all of which are sharable in the world of digital and serve to reinforce the significant message behind Movember.
Following on from the topic of celebrity social shares and content marketing is the overall essential part which social media has played in Movember’s viral success. To date the Movember hashtag has been used no less than 1,960,261 times (and still growing!) and as the graph below shows, year on year this has remarkably increased, with 2013 looking to be no exception. It is also worth noting the broad range of related hashtags that have contributed to the increase in brand awareness.
Partnership with Big Brands
Perhaps one of its greatest strategic moves has been Movember's extensive range of partnerships. Initially partnering with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia it has since widened its fundraising association more generally to ‘Men's health’, encompassing Testicular Cancer and Mental Health as key areas of concern. This has enabled the charity to extend its impact to a much larger empathetic audience.
However, Movember has not limited its relationships to charitable causes, as it has formed key partnerships with big brands such as Gillette, HP Sauce and Byron restaurants; something which Hywel Mills, Partnership Manager for Movember UK, claimed has enabled mainstream advertising visibility and a huge reach which they would have otherwise been unable to achieve.
Of course, this strategy works both ways, as both official and unofficial Movember affiliates obtain the benefit of positive PR by associating themselves with the cause. It has also allowed businesses to create topical content online and further expand and engage their audiences.
In addition to this, and new for 2013, has been the launch of a Movember app, enabling people to recruit their friends, record their daily progress and track their donations. By expanding their presence to mobile devices, Movember has further increased its visibility and made accessibility easier for registrants. With mobile devices now being integrated into everyday life Movember will have certainly picked up a few extra recruits from this offering.
Movember has cleverly combined the success of its digital marketing with offline techniques, encouraging participants to attend and host events – ranging from cake sales and race days to end of month wrap parties.
And, of course, Movember is fortunate enough to have millions of walking talking billboards worldwide, which no doubt serve as a constant talking point and awareness tool for the campaign. But by taking advantage of this and adding an innovative mix of marketing techniques, the charity is able to fully capitalise on the opportunity to continue raising money for an important cause.
The essential role a carefully executed marketing strategy has played in seeing Movember grow in the past ten years, from a few friends chatting in the pub to a worldwide trend, cannot be denied. It is a modern day example of how bringing together and utilising the right components can result in worldwide success. If anyone has any comments or questions to add I would love to hear from you.