New Zealand has a sad statistic that few people know: it has the highest rate of male suicide in the world. Movember is the charity fighting to put an end to this and “stop men dying too young”. In order to raise awareness, improve mental health and ultimately prevent male suicide, they need to raise funds.
For this campaign, the objective was simple – to beat the previous year’s total of donations. They needed to find a way to stand out.
A powerful insight was uncovered: The people who needed Movember most weren’t able to participate: schoolboys. And while the male youth suicide rate is at an all-time high, conversations amongst the group are at an all-time low. Starting a conversation amongst students would help give them confidence to speak up.
Many High Schools in New Zealand have a ‘clean shave’ policy, so inviting students to participate in Movember could be the talking point this campaign needed. Targeting schools with the clean-shave policy, $178 was spent on stamps to send 178 personalised letters to principals, requesting they suspend their rules and allow schoolboys to participate.
While some principals might agree, some would say no. This would create a debate between charity – supporting a good cause – and discipline - keeping consistent school rules. The clash of viewpoints would generate controversy. But no matter the stance one took, the mental health of students and Movember’s cause would spark a national conversation.
The letter was sent to national and regional media, ran as a full-page ad, was shared on Movember’s Facebook page and PR was used to spread the debate. Soon, mainstream TV networks, radio stations and online news outlets across the country picked up on the story reaching the entire population twice over. The strategy delivered a turnaround in growth across the board.