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Movember charity campaign seeks to draw more men with moustaches to cause

Barber Ryan Rich, right, shaves Adam Paul's mustache at Movember & Co. on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014 in Culver City, Calif. Most men growing moustaches throughout the month are doing so in the name of charity. But the popularity of Movember has led to others who are simply growing a "mo" for the sake of it - and not to raise funds. Is there a risk of losing the true message behind a movement when people are seeking to simply be part of a trend?
November 05, 2015 - 6:29 PM

TORONTO - Seth Glick was inspired by moustaches grown by his friends when he decided to ditch his razor for charity, but his reasons for sporting a "mo" cut even deeper.

"Unlike other charities, it wasn't one run or one event — it was the whole month," said the Edmonton-based realtor, who has participated in the annual Movember campaign for six years.

"I thought that you could get a lot of conversations, a lot of people looking at your funny moustache, and also hopefully meet some people in the city that were raising money as well. So, fun definitely has a lot to do with it."

The global men's health charity has added a month-long fitness challenge dubbed MOVE as a way for both men and women to take part in Movember. But the prime fundraising focal point remains centred on clean-shaven men growing moustaches to gain pledge support.

Last year, 115,000 Canadians raised more than $24 million for the cause, according to Jesse Hayman, director of community engagement for Movember Canada. Funds raised go toward programs focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and physical inactivity.

But the popularity of Movember has led to those who simply sprout a "mo" for the sake of it.

"You see someone once in a while and you ask: 'How's Movember doing?' And they say, 'No, I'm just growing a moustache,'" said Glick.

"I mean, that's not a bad thing because in the end, that moustache — for most people — is going to be associated with Movember. But if we find people that aren't doing Movember, we give them a kind nudge and suggest they sign up ... and donate a little bit of money to make the moustache count."

Monica LaBarge of Queen's University said charities "have to take the good with the bad" with respect to how individuals respond to viral campaigns.

"What are you going to say? You can't grow a moustache if you're not generating funds?" said LaBarge, an assistant professor of marketing in the Smith School of Business. "I think that's really tough, and I think that a lot of these organizations really rely on positive social media.

"If you think about the ALS ice bucket challenge, a lot of those people probably weren't living up to what the ALS society would have liked. But what are they going to say? 'No, you can't do it that way?'"

Movember is a grassroots movement that relies on participants to communicate the message about men's health, said Hayman.

"There's definitely people that are probably growing moustaches and haven't signed up. And our biggest thing internally is to get people to sign up," he said.

"One, you can raise funds that way. But really the most important reason is you're understanding why you're doing it."

LaBarge said charities with viral campaigns could consider ensuring participants have specific facts about the cause at the ready that can be disseminated within their social circles.

"I think that the facility of a younger generation with social media and their desire and understanding of how things go viral, that would actually be a really great way for young people to get involved," said LaBarge.

"I think if you keep it simple and you really push that then you can have a big impact. But the more complicated you make it, the less likely it is to get translated."

Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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