Movember Moniker a Matter of Life and Death

[Cache – #86]

November is almost upon us, and with it the brilliance of Movember – possibly the world’s only charitable campaign so ingenious that it isn’t just impossible to miss, it’s impossible to avoid.  Launched only nine years ago, last year Movember campaigns were held in 14 countries and raised $125 million.  Run in this country by Prostate Cancer Canada, its principal genius is that when we look at someone – which we tend to do several to thousands of times every day – we can instantly identify participants.  It doesn’t matter if the person we’re looking at is two feet away – or, via a computer or TV screen, across the planet.

Movember is in-your-face like no other charitable cause in existence.  And so we, the general public, are highly likely to gain awareness of the Movember cause, and even be inspired to participate ourselves (which in this case looks to be a lot of fun), donate money or simply spread the word.

Yet there is another vital dimension to the incredible success and spread of Movember – its name.  Despite the genius of Movember’s core idea, if instead of Movember it was called Passion for Moustaches, or Grow a Moustache Month, it would be more difficult to generate excitement, participation, awareness – and revenue.


But what makes Movember, as a name, make money?  While the construction of Movember is elegant, the name works because it is so highly utilitarian.  In other words, it does the jobs that are the hallmarks of profit-maximizing names.

First, Movember is “remark-able,” or worthy of word-of-mouth.  We are attacked by thousands of marketing messages every day, and we can only absorb so much.  Clever names like Movember catch our precious attention and inspire us to share the name with others – for altruistic reasons, certainly, but also so others might validate our intelligence.  The bargain for charitable organizations is that word-of-mouth, turbo-charged by social media, is vastly less expensive and more effective than paid communications.

This is an excerpt of a column I’m pitching to various publications.  If the full story gets published, I will share the link with you.  If it doesn’t, I will print the whole thing here.

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