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Adam Garone, who created the Movember fundraising and awareness for prostate cancer research, is photographed in Toronto in September, 2001.
Adam Garone, who created the Movember fundraising and awareness for prostate cancer research, is photographed in Toronto in September, 2001.

Mia Pearson

Why Movember has come so far, so fast Add to ...

Today is the first of December. For a lot of us, that means the beginning of Christmas shopping and holiday parties. But for an increasing number of Canadians it means something totally different: the end of Movember.

A lot of those moustaches you’ve come to love on your daily commute or at the office will be gone, but the impact they made over the past month is incredible.

This year, the worldwide movement raised in excess of $90 million, with more than 850,000 people taking up the cause of prostate cancer research. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, Canada was the No. 1 fundraiser, with a staggering $34 million from 245,000 registered participants, an increase from $22.3 million last year.

I interviewed Movember CEO and co-founder Adam Garone, who is in Toronto this week for the closing gala, to get some insight into how the movement has grown from its roots in Australia to a worldwide phenomenon in just seven years.

The first thing many people notice about Movember is that it doesn’t rely on scary statistics or shocking images. It’s fun – pictures of everyday guys with great moustaches, personal stories and partnerships with cool brands. It has taken a positive approach to encouraging participation, which has really worked.

“Movember is about being a modern gentleman, being chivalrous and being healthy,” Mr. Garone says.

When it first started in 2004, there was a basic website with a downloadable form that could be shared by e-mail. Now, Movember.com houses a vibrant social network of Mo Spaces where people can share photos of their moustaches and receive donations from friends and supporters.

“Social has accelerated our growth,” Mr. Garone says. “It gives people a platform to share their progress, increases their reach, and makes it easy for them to get their friends involved.”

Another key to Movember’s growth comes from its approach to managing the brand, something most organizations struggle with. “Social media has fundamentally changed the way brands are managed. It is a two-way communication now and all about creating brand ambassadors.”

By taking a step back, Movember has let go of its brand and created a passionate group of supporters who feel real ownership of the cause. “Movember’s aim is to inspire people,” Mr. Garone says. “We want to encourage men and women to build the brand and raise awareness for prostate cancer.”

Sometimes the most effective campaigns are the ones that let customers lead. It’s not always easy to let go of your brand, but when done correctly, it can be incredibly powerful.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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