How to communicate your campaign: top lessons from Movember

November is a busy month for cancer-related fundraising. It’s Movember and it’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Two cancer awareness raising and fund raising initiatives in one month, and on top of that it’s also Poppy Day. With so many awareness raising campaigns and fund raising initiatives competing for public attention and support, what makes one campaign great and another only ok?

Why does Movember work so well?

> It’s co-created

Movember was started by a couple of guys in Australia but it has now become a global movement. The Movember founders have successfully devolved control and power to anyone and any organisation that wants to pick it up and support it. Unlike many other campaigns, there are no rules or regulations about how to use a moustache in your promotional materials or campaigns. There are no brand guidelines, pantone colour specifications or layout rules. You can just pick up the mo logo (or maybe that should be mogo) and go.

We have found in our co-creation work that when you give people a clear framework or platform (i.e. the moustache) alongside freedom and support to express and deliver their ideas, then the impact is amplified and people will create value in ways that you could never have imagined.

> The Mo brand

It’s so easy to adopt. You can put a mo on just about anything. It’s visual and if you wear it on your face (and probably on your mug, necklace, car …) you promote it everywhere you go. There are not many other logos that people wear 24/7 for a whole month.

> It’s about men and it’s a men’s thing

It’s all about men’s health and moustache growing is man only activity (although I am told there are some exceptions to the rule!). The Movember and Sons website does include women, or Mo Sista’s, who support Mo Bros in their moustache growing journeys.

> It’s cool

Moustaches are really cool right now. In fact they are so cool they might be starting to loose their cool amongst the really really cool kids. But there is no doubt that they are cool and it’s cool to wear one.

> It’s got the month in the title

Can you remember which month is breast cancer awareness month or cycle to work month or mental health awareness month? Its called Mo-vember so it just makes it easy to remember when it is happening. Public supporters can start planning their mo growing antics well in advance and supporting organisations can build into their strategies as it is so easy to know which month is mo month.

What’s holding it back?

I had an inkling that despite the massive awareness of Movember there were limitations in people’s understanding about what all the mos were in aid of. I thought that people might be getting involved because it is fun and cool but not truly understand the message or the topic.

So I did a very unscientific poll on Facebook and among some of my male friends and asked them what Movember was all about. Most told me that it was about prostate cancer, some mentioned testicular cancer, some had a broader understanding that it was to do with male issues, mental health issues, and some believed that it was to raise money for a charity of your choice.

In case you are wondering, the website explains that the aim of Movember is “to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.” More specifically, all funds raised in the UK go to Prostate Cancer UK and the Institute of Cancer Research.

So it seems that despite of the success of Movember there is still room for a better understanding of its key messages. And we at Uscreates would challenge the movement to go further than simply awareness and fundraising and start changing behaviours that can impact on cancer survival rates (symptom checking, screening, visiting a health professional early with signs, avoiding risk factors).

Mo lessons

Lung Cancer Awareness month does what it says on the tin. There can be little confusion over what the campaign is about, but despite this clarity it is obviously not gaining the same interest and traction as Movember.

Unfortunately, lung cancer is burdened with many negative associations  (perceptions of poor survival rates, blame culture toward sufferers, limited high profile support). We think there is a real opportunity to change and challenge these perceptions through applying some of the ingredients for the success of Movember, and in doing so rebrand lung cancer. And maybe Movember could learn from lung cancer campaigners about targeting behaviours as well as perceptions, and encourage symptom awareness and checking.

With so much activity competing for awareness in November, maybe Movember could join with lung cancer awareness to promote male lung cancer awareness? What do you think?


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