Healthy Body

Mo’bros: promoting a good cause

No one likes to be confronted with their own mortality. The genius of Movember is it's soft approach to men's health – using something totally novel to publicise something that is totally serious.

The campaign has been hugely successful, the money earned is growing substantially year on year. In 2013 Movember Ireland raised €2.1million, while the global campaign took in over €113.5 million. In Ireland the funds raised are split between Cancer Ireland and Movember's Global Action Plan which funds prostate cancer research.

The campaign is fun. Groups of men are encouraged to form teams and grow their 'stashes together. Mo'bros can track their growth and campaign for donations on both the Movember site and app.

Movember strikes a balance, being both 'laddish' and hip. The 2013 campaign is made to look like it's promoting a new rock band – calling Generation Mo back into action.

It could easily pass for a fashion spread in GQ or Esquire.

Sporting tie-ins bring the campaign to a mass audience. By the end of November post-match analyses of Autumn Internationals and big Premier League matches will see as much talk about mens facial hair as line-breaks or dodgy penalty decisions.

The campaign takes a scary issue and makes it into something fun but there is a real message here encoded in the 'banter'. The campaign does a great job both normalising and publicising the issue of prostate cancer.

Ireland has the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in Europe – over 2,500 men are diagnosed every year. Movember Ireland are launching their 6th campaign. They hope to turn men's upper-lips into mini-billboards promoting men's health and helping to fight the disease.

Most men won't go to a doctor until they are forced to by sickness or professional obligations. The National Men's Health Policy 2008-2013 makes for some bleak reading for Irish Males. The report found that male life expectancy is 71 years, five years less than their female counterparts.

A disproportionate number of male deaths are caused by treatable illnesses that go unreported until it is too late. A part from the money raised, Movember's biggest achievement may be opening a new mainstream dialogue about men's health and ending well the established culture of silence.