It’s that time of year again! No, not Thanksgiving or Christmas, but the month of November, or as some people lovingly call it, “MO-vember”. It’s the time for men to ditch the razor and let the beard come out with the intention of raising awareness for men’s health, which includes prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems. Who would have thought that such serious health issues could provoke a fun phenomenon in our society? Everywhere you go, you can see little moustaches on things, making it known to the world that it’s time to donate.
I can recall the first marketing campaign for a good cause to be those good ol’ highlighter yellow rubber bracelets that everyone (and their grandmother) had back in 1997, when cancer survivor & former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong promoted them to gain funds for those affected by cancer. I can also recall seeing everyone in my school wearing them. I did not really know what exactly the foundation did, but all I did know they were cool and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon. They became so popular that other foundations started making their own bracelets. The hype around the social phenomenon even caused people to make fake ones; no one seemed to care about cancer, they just cared about “fitting in” and being “cool”.
So, can the same be said about other campaigns like Movember? How many men grow their beard every year, but never actually donate? Well, it seems that you do not even have to donate directly to the cause, or even be genetically able to grow a beard! Women, dubbed “Mo’Sistas”, can also take part and are often part of the Movember campaigns. We are encouraged, according to the campaigns official page to,” Give Mo’ Love. A wink, a nod, a smile or word of encouragement can make all the difference to a Mo Bro and his moustache as he navigates the month of Movember.” The men portrayed in the campaign’s videos are seen as a cool guys, who by just growing a beard are all of a sudden very attractive and also have a sense of “brotherhood” by helping other men.
There are also plenty of products on sale that support the cause and show the world that you support fighting men’s health issues. Companies like luxury watchmaker Maurice Lacroix made14 limited edition watches for the month, but unlike other companies, like Tom’s shoes, the recipient of the watch must fundraise a notable amount for the cause. Fast-fashion leader Forever 21 also supports the cause by adding moustaches on their products and blogging about it as a “trend”. Even British Airways supports the cause by having a moustache on one their planes (called “The Connoisseur”).
Movember definitely has its roots in a good cause, but I think it’s safe to say that thanks to communication concepts like the Reinforcement Theory and the Two-Step Flow Theory, the movement has grown so much more than initially thought of. In a promotional video by the foundation, they talk about “Mo’Bro’s” and how it is something that should be done together and how social media lets people first hear about the movement. According to the Reinforcement Theory,“people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors was more likely to be influenced by their schools, family, community & religious institutions” than the mass media; the media can only affect a person when a new idea is introduced. As a society however, there are social stigmas that we consider to be “good”; donating money to help those who are sick is definitely seen as a “good deed”, so it is not a new idea that the media is bringing to us. That motivation to do good comes from those around us, our peers, family members and friends. It is most likely that you will (if you can) grow a beard in the name of Movember because your buddies are doing it, than to do it because the media has influenced you.
Opinion leaders however also help motivate people to join the cause. Many actors like Ryan Gosling and Seth Rogan promote men to take part for the cause. According to Wikipedia’s page on the Two-Step Flow Theory,
“These “opinion leaders” gain their influence through more elite media as opposed to mainstream mass media. In this process, social influence is created and adjusted by the ideals and opinions of each specific “elite media” group, and by these media group’s opposing ideals and opinions and in combination with popular mass media sources. Therefore, the leading influence in these opinions is primarily a social persuasion.”
Unlike Armstrong’s bracelets, Movember is male exclusive and something that, as hard as a I may try, I will not be able to grow a ‘mo. I will have to do my part and support a Mo’Bro in his hairy adventure where scissors, razors and any sharp object are obsolete!