Mustaches are suspended from overpasses, stenciled on the sides of telephone poles and even painted on a military helicopter in Djibouti. And yes, they’re on faces too—97,484 faces and counting, and that only includes Canada.
I’m not talking about any old mustaches though, I’m talking about the Mo. It’s that time of year when men get to grow the ‘stache of their dreams: fu manchus, handlebars, Tom Sellecks or whatever shape they can coax their coarse hairs into. Throughout November, not only can they grow a Mo without judgement, they can also raise money for prostate cancer research.
Movember started in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia. Its founders didn’t raise any money the first year, but they realized the endless potential of the ‘stache. In 2009, the Movember campaign had over 233,755 members with over $47 million donated to men’s health. Last year, Canada’s campaign was the second largest in the world, behind Australia.
Mustaches are to prostate cancer what pink ribbons are to breast cancer. But unlike the ribbons, mustaches are somewhat interactive. They’re shaped by external forces-—literally by razors, and figuratively by competition. Participants don’t just grow a mustache, they strive to become Mr. Movember by creating the beefiest, ugliest and cheesiest Mo possible. To see what I mean, check out Movember Canada’s Facebook photo gallery. It’s amazing, but what’s even better is that in the 15 seconds it took me to post that link, 20 more people liked their page.
By nature, mustaches are made for social media. They’re funny, they’re kind of gross, they’re free and they attract attention from both the grower and the admirer. Over 10,000 people like Movember Canada’s Facebook page, almost 8,000 people follow them on Twitter and you can even share your Mo’s progress with an iPhone app. It’s a constantly evolving campaign that’s impossible to stop watching. And when Movember ends, they shave it off and start again next year. It’s kind of like a Chia Pet, only more successful.
What makes Movember even more popular is its female-friendliness. The organizers encourage women to make friends with the Mo, and to love and nurture it. They can digitally grow a mustache, buy a stick-on or use the ever-popular Fingerstache.
This all makes me wonder: Does Tom Selleck support Movember? His mustache is by far the most talked about in Movember circles and it’s been copied thousands (millions?) of times. Unfortunately, Tom’s online presence is as elusive as his upper lip, so I’ll have to ask him via snail mail. And because I’ll probably never write Tom Selleck again, I’m also including a photo for him to autograph.
I’ll keep you posted about his reply. Until then, keep growing!
Yukari Peerless and Russel Lolacher are communications professionals with a strong interest in social media and engagement. These two are legends in Victoria and it’s not hard to see why. They recently decided to collaborate and create a video series entitled Getting Engaged: Online, In Life and at Work. Their most recent episode, Nudity and Mustaches: Some Engaging Fundraisers, addresses how social media has engaged them with their involvement in Movember and the Babes Go Bare campaigns.