Movember Proves Cause Marketing Isn’t Just For Women

Is it just me, or have most of us been treating cause marketing as if it’s synonymous with women? If men are being ignored, it would seem to be for a reason. Let’s consider.

Studies actually show that women are generally more attuned to cause marketing than men are. The Dynamics of Cause Engagement study released by Ogilvy and Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) show that women believe supporting a cause creates a greater sense of personal purpose. This may result from a physiological difference, but years of breast cancer and children’s health awareness programs have likely played a role in embedding a deeper connection to cause marketing. This inevitably increases the probability of achieved awareness, behavioral change and a program’s overall success.

Men’s interaction with causes poses a marketing challenge. In part, achieving awareness means using different tactics and messaging, but their tendency to be moved by a message or issue is typically contingent on external or social factors, like talking and connecting with peers, rather than women’s tendencies to be internally driven by feelings.

As a leading example, this week marks the first full week of Movember. Launched in 2003, Movember is an international nonprofit and month-long event that prompts men to grow their mustaches as part of a team or as an individual while soliciting sponsorship dollars in support of men’s health. At the same time, participants also are promoting awareness of the nonprofit’s chief causes – prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health – through social media sharing and more.

Companies like TOMS Shoes, Gillette and Foster’s have partnered with the nonprofit, tapping into this under saturated market and helping inspire 1.1 million “mo bros” worldwide in 2012 to raise $147 million in USD. That’s a lot of mustaches.

So what makes it work? In a recent New York Times article featuring the organization, Joe Waters, who is co-author of “Cause Marketing for Dummies,” said that “even though these are serious issues, they engage in a fun way. Women’s causes…often engage you with sadness, but Movember engages you with humor.”

The approach taken by Movember and its partners can yield some useful suggestions for developing the right cause marketing program to attract and motivate male consumers.

1. Understand your target audience: This is a given with any campaign. Are these men Boomers or Millennials? Family men or single men? Are they enjoying thoughtful PBS documentaries or are they laughing at viral YouTube videos and sharing them with their friends?

2. Have an element of entertainment: Not all cause marketing efforts can be as fun as Movember (especially if they involve political causes, which is a different story altogether), but you definitely shouldn’t settle for your everyday $1 donation program in exchange for sale.

3. Use the right tone: From what I’ve seen, it means paying attention to your tone and finding that sweet spot between lighthearted and authoritative. It’s equally important to include a clear call to action.

4. Get creative with your creative: I think we can all agree that Old Spice has had a hand in changing our perception of and recent trends in marketing to male consumers. Just look at this commercial released by Just for Men in support of Movember. A lot of it is implicit, but it’s hard not to notice the manliness of that badass hawk at the end.

5. Encourage camaraderie: Instead of weighing heavily on the issues, particularly those that are sensitive in nature, find a way to create a feel-good experience that fosters male bonding.

The supporting for-profits of Movember are fortunate enough to be partnered with such a distinctive nonprofit that found the right equation, or approach, that truly appeals to their target audience. If you don’t know about Movember, I encourage you to check it out (even “mo sistas” can get involved!).

What have you or has your company done in order to reach men through cause marketing? And to the guys out there, what are your thoughts on this as consumers and PR professionals? Share with us in the comments section below or on our Facebook wall.

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