In 2003 Adam Garone of Melbourne and his friends thought it would be funny to see how well they could each grow a mustache for an entire 30-day period. It was at this time Movember was created (Mo being local slang for a mustache) and they really had no idea how their silly idea would soon lead to a global movement.
Each of the 30 participating friends started out the month clean-shaven and by the end they threw a party to celebrate their campaign. “We got so much grief from girlfriends, bosses, and moms who said, ‘You can’t just grow a mustache!’,” said Adam. Once all was said and done (and shaved off) Adam and his friends thought, “that was so much fun we need a way to legitimize it so we can keep it going year after year.” Thus Movember truly began to take shape.
The group thought about various campaigns they had previously been a party of such as fundraisers for breast cancer research and became inspired by that global community that seems to make such a difference. “Of the original group, two of the guys had dads with prostate cancer so we started researching,” noted Adam. The guys soon found out that prostate cancer was similar to breast cancer in terms of number of people diagnosed each year. They also observed that, “there was a significant gap in awareness and fundraising for that particular cause.” As such, campaigning to raise funds for Prostate Cancer research became the driving force behind the next Movember.
“Prostate cancer is over 90 per cent curable if detected and treated in its earliest stages. in addition to investing in research, Movember raises awareness and ultimately saves lives. Together we are changing the face of men’s health.” – Steve Jones, CEO and President, Prostate Cancer Canada
In 2004 they then had 450 men from Melbourne and Australia take part, raising $55,000 and this year they are now on track to register over a quarter of a million participants globally.
“Growing a mustache is a lot like doing a run or a walk for charity,” said Adam who said they then created the tag line “changing the face of men’s health”. “So we literally challenge men to change their appearance with that commitment and by doing that they became a walking billboard for 30 days talking about prostate cancer, their health, and raising funds along the way.”
He attributes much of its global success to word of mouth and they had no idea that it would grow to be the event is it today. Across Canada there are already over 1,400 participants or “Mos” each running campaigns or as a part of a team. Locally, Movember Canada funds raised will go to Prostate Cancer Canada while globally the Movember Foundation supports campaigns, education, and research year-round.
Adam said that, “men want to do something for causes that effect us but we don’t want to wear a blue ribbon. We don’t want to wear a blue wristband. But growing a mustache has that retro appeal and a lot wonder what they look like with a mustache.”
Upon signup you will be given your own online donation/campaign page, the rule (ie. no goatees or beards), and tools to help you raise funds and host events in your city. Women are also encouraged to get involved as they can organize teams, donate, and help mobilize their male friends.
After interviewing Adam, I put the call out on Twitter (by the way you can find them @Movember / @Movember_CA) to see if there were any local participants out there. Here’s a quick list if you’d like to show your support:
Vancouver will celebrate the end of Movember on the 26th at Fortune Sound Club on East Pender. You can come dressed as the character that best suits your ‘stache and there are also prizes for Miss Movember. This will all be followed by what I can only assume will be a massive shave-off.
Adam encourages all men to take part and it isn’t too late to join today. “Movember is just the perfect word of mouth campaign, it’s on your face — and if it’s not on your face it’s in your face.”