Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

“It’s a subtle way of getting in front of someone” – Movember discusses its recent in-play ad campaign

Movember has taken the world by storm since 2007, when it was launched outside of Australia and New Zealand for the first time. Fast-forward to the present day and the Movember Foundation is the world’s largest male-focused health movement, concentrating on mental health & suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer.

If you weren’t already aware, Movember is an annual charity event which involves men growing moustaches in the month of November to raise awareness around the aforementioned men’s health issues.

Mo’s in the game

To further raise awareness around the month, the charity recently partnered with in-play advertising platform Admix to reach highly-engaged male gamers while they played mobile games.

“Movember’s had a really rich history in gaming, including content creators, professional eSports events, in-play activations with the likes of EA Sports and Rockstar Games, and lots of games putting moustaches on their characters,” says Tom D’Souza, Global Innovation at Movember. “Many non-profits are a bit nervous around the gaming sector, because they look at it in a bit of an outdated sense. There are some negative connotations with gaming, but we really focus on the positives. It’s a hugely online community now, and a good way for our community to stay connected.

“Movember’s always been about finding cool, innovative, exciting ways of getting the message in front of new and existing supporters in an unobtrusive way, which is why I’m so pleased to partner with Admix on this. It’s a subtle, subliminal way of getting in front of someone without disturbing their routine too much.”

Admix’s technology enables ads to be run directly in games on virtual billboards that don’t intrude on the gaming experience of those playing. And “game developers don’t have to learn about this annoyingly complicated ecosystem” of programmatic advertising, according to Admix’s VP of Global Partnerships, Michael Silberberg.

“We built an SDK that is very lightweight and no code. It plugs directly into the Unity engine, and accesses the world’s largest programmatic advertising pipes,” explains Silberberg. “You can buy us on any DSP, and we can run campaign and deal IDs on Pubmatic, Magnite, Xandr – any major SSP.

“They’re able to plug directly into it, and create ad units in the engine. They can grab a billboard and have it plugged into that ecosystem.”

Through the partnership with Admix, Movember has been looking to “build up some of our key brand associations like being fun and being relevant to our audience”, states Daniel Deans, UK Marketing Manager at Movember.

This month, Movember been trying to drive people to head to its website and sign-up to participate in in the campaign. Heading into the month of November itself, the foundation will look to drive donations to those who are taking part in the event.

Mo’ growth

Beyond Movember month, the charity plans to keep the in-play ad format running and look to deliver some year-round messaging tied to other key events, such as April’s Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.

“We have quite a lot of paid media activity that goes out in October and November. But, once the campaign finishes at the end of November, we don’t really have much paid media live. This is one of the few formats that we can see going year-round, which is awesome, because otherwise we don’t get a lot of brand exposure through the rest of the year,” says Deans.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, as gaming tends to skew more towards a male audience. Throughout the rest of the year, it’s an opportunity for us to reach that audience with behavioural messaging that’s relevant to them. Whether that’s checking their nuts for testicular cancer or getting support for mental health, it’s a great opportunity to specifically reach that audience with the right messaging that we otherwise struggle to do.”

Movember will also explore the extending its paid media activity to women as well, because it has other opportunities to get involved in fundraising for the month that don’t involve growing a moustache, and “between 30 and 50% of our donations come from women as well”, according to Deans.

“Traditionally, most of our paid media has focus on men, because the main campaign is getting people signed up to grow a moustache. But we’re increasingly focusing on other opportunities for people to get into Movember,” adds Deans.

“We have one product called ‘Move’, where people run or walk 60km over the space of November rather than grow a moustache. And there are a couple of other products for anyone to be able to get involved in the campaign. So, we’re increasingly looking at how we can target those with our paid media.”

On top of that, the foundation will be putting a significant focus on finding new ways to challenge the issues that men are facing, with a big effort being put into developing its mobile experience.

“Movember has always been quite digital-first, and innovation is at the heart of everything Movember does,” says D’Souza. “The next 12 months for us will really focus on the mobile experience for all our supporters – whether that’s people growing a moustache, people donating, or people wanting to run a marathon.”