The issue faced by this most important of targets was that they were often banned by their school from participating. How could we get young men to help fight mental health issues if they were unable to participate in the very charity that supports the cause? This was the point of social tension that we could use to spark interest in Movember and men’s health.
The idea used technology that was old a thousand years ago. We wrote a letter. The letter was addressed to 178 School Principals across New Zealand who wouldn’t allow their pupils to grow facial hair. We very politely asked them to relax their rule for the month of November to allow young men to be able to grow a moustache and thus openly support the charity that was supporting them. We sent the letter to 178 school principals across the country. But that wasn’t enough. To spark interest, we also sent the letter to national and regional newspapers who agreed to run the letter as full-page ads the same week. We knew that public opinion would add a lot of impetus to the letter. We also posted the letter on our Facebook page for our fans to see.
Mainstream TV networks, radio stations, online news outlets and 38 media outlets across the country picked up on the story thus reaching the whole adult population a couple of times over. We’d set up an important quandary: should schools be consistent with their rules? Or should they show greater support for the mental wellbeing of their pupils? The pressure worked wonders.
Tom Anderson, Creative at Barnes Catmur & Friends Dentsu said: "Shamefully, New Zealand has the highest rate of male youth suicide in the world. So we teamed up with The Movember Foundation, a men’s health charity that encourages the growth of moustaches throughout November, to help address the problem. We did it by targeting those who couldn’t take part. Ironically, high school boys have never been able to participate in Movember because of a school rule prohibiting facial hair. So we published a letter to every school in NZ with a clean-shave policy requesting that, for the first time, they suspend their rule. And it worked. We had a record number of signups, a record number of donations, and made national headlines. One letter started a national conversation about male youth suicide."
We spent $178 on postage stamps and generated over $1.7 million in donations – a 55% increase on a 3-year average and the best result in seven years. We also generated another $550,000 in media exposure for this vital cause, and put new momentum behind the brand. Most importantly, we created an environment where young men could talk about their health. In partnership with the Dentsu Aegis Network New Zealand, Movember plans to continue the conversation with High School boys into 2018 and beyond.