More! More! More! How DDB Responded to the Mo's Call.
20 years ago, in a tavern in Melbourne, two Australian guys - Travis Garone and Luke Slattery - transformed a conversation about fashion trends into one of the largest charity events in the world.
30 men united to grow fantastic mustaches as a means to raise funds for research on prostate cancer. The camaraderie quickly spread, and by 2004, the number of 'Mo Bros' soared to 480, leading to the largest single donation of $54,000 received by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Today, in 2023, this movement of men growing their mustaches as a symbol of unity and hope has become a global phenomenon. More than 1000 projects related to men's health are receiving significant donations, and over six million 'Mo Bros and Mo Sisters' are joining forces to raise awareness about men's health issues.
All types of mustaches are welcome to participate, from the Errol Flynns to the Tom Sellecks, the Freddie Mercurys to the Hulk Hogans.
Casey Martin from LBB spoke with Giles Watson, the creative partner at DDB Group Melbourne, about what it takes to promote a good mustache.
LBB> The commercial itself evokes a sense of nostalgia for a cult classic film from the 1970s. What was the inspiration behind it?
Giles> The core truth we started with was that men's health is in crisis - and feelings of loneliness and isolation are leading men to seek help and companionship in undesirable places, such as secret societies, online forums, and dark algorithmic wormholes. Our campaign transformed Movember into the world's most inclusive society, aiming to bring people together rather than pushing them apart.
Therefore, it made sense to embrace the visually captivating world of cults and secret societies. We wanted to create a visual world that maintained a sense of irreverence and playfulness - something out of this world and utterly unconventional.
LBB> When working on a global campaign, what is the first thing you seek or consider in the brief or brand to ensure success?
Giles> It may seem obvious, but we look for a simple idea rooted in a clear and sharp insight that can resonate across different cultures without losing its impact. Humor is crucial for Movember, further adding complexity to a global campaign. That's why we opted for an American-nostalgic aesthetic, as it makes the campaign familiar and relatable. After all, many of us have grown up watching American TV shows.
LBB> The decision to create a symbol of unity, a beacon in the darkness akin to Batman, is truly brilliant. What has been the response so far? And how will this concept continue to manifest as November approaches?
Giles> Symbolism has always held immense power in bringing people together. From religious and sports clubs to the Illuminati and, yes, Batman, iconic symbols represent the greatest groups. Now, Movember has the all-saving 'Mo'.
LBB> Please take us through the challenges you faced in creating this commercial. What did you learn during the process?
Giles> Balance was key. We had to strike a balance between humor and the seriousness of the message, traditional and progressive notions of masculinity, and the selection of characters. Every decision had to consider nuance and careful thought to ensure the campaign hit the right notes, fulfilling all our objectives without becoming overly complex or confusing in its execution.
LBB> As an agency that is based in Australia, a country where men’s mental and physical health can often be overlooked due to certain damaging stigmas and stereotypes of masculinity, how did you navigate and address those stigmas and stereotypes? What do you hope this advertisement achieves in the long run?
Giles> There are numerous obstacles when it comes to seeking assistance. Stigmas, stereotypes, and societal norms undoubtedly hinder men, but there are too many for a single advertisement to tackle.
The most prominent social stigma we are combating is the feeling of isolation that men experience, whether it be in their struggles with illnesses, whether mental or physical, or in their willingness to support other men. The truth is, Movember is most effective when it brings men together to lend a hand to one another. We address men in a way that feels like a casual conversation at a pub, rather than a clinical environment. By uniting men, we can showcase the similarities we share, our challenges, but also our inspirations, in order to overcome various barriers.
Most excitingly, and without giving away too much, beyond the initial launch of this campaign, the "order of the Mo" community is poised to become a significantly larger platform for us in the years to come. We have plans to create initiation events for "shave downs" in October and to explore the vast interconnectedness of our society. So, stay tuned.
LBB> What was the most enjoyable aspect of producing this advertisement?
Giles> Movember is a brand that deeply resonates with people, and thanks to that, we had the opportunity to access an abundance of remarkable personalities, tools, and resources. From the latest CGI technology to enlisting a Mongolian folk metal band for the soundtrack, we had it all. One personal highlights was conducting a remote voiceover session with English comedian and actor Matt Berry, during which it became abundantly clear how strikingly close to reality "Clem Fandango" truly is.
LBB> Bonus question here: How many of the mustaches were completely authentic, and how many required some time in the makeup chair?
Giles> The founders of Movember have strict rules since the very beginning: No fake mustaches allowed. No exceptions.
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