INTERVIEW: Just how big is Movember?

Back in the southern-hemisphere summer of 2003, a gang of Antipodean gents came up with the idea of growing a moustache for a month. 6 years on and nearly a quarter of a million men around the globe are cultivating face fur on their upper lips all in the name of charity - well, and because it's kind of fun too. To tell us some more about the background of the annual event and where it's at today, Pocket-lint measured up mos with JC, the man in charge of Movember for Europe.

So, how much money have you guys managed to raise since you've been doing this?
It wasn't about money to begin with. It was just to bring back the mo. Our dads and sporting heroes had them and we just wanted to have some fun. So there were just 30 of us in 2003 in Melbourne but then in 2004 there were 500 of us and we raised AUS$55,000. We wanted to do something for guys because we thought men's health was getting neglected. So, we researched into what the biggest killers for guys were and the single largest one turned out to be prostate cancer. The next year we got 9000 mo bros together and raised AUS$1.1 million which the Australian government matched to give us AUS$2.2 million. That was amazing. We asked them to and they did.

And what about since Movember has gone global?
Well, we went global in 2007 by which time we'd managed to raise £15million, but last year with 173,000 registered mo bros worldwide we doubled the figure to £30million - in a single year! This year we've got around 243,000 registered out there and I had a look at the current total and we're somewhere around £8million for 2009 but we reckon each mo brings in around between £100 - £120 per head, so it's set to be another great year.

What do you think has been the key to the success of the event?
Men are inherently lazy. We're not asking guys to do a lot. Just grow a moustache. Actually, though, it's a lot more effort than it sounds having to shave around your mo for a month. I hardly take a razor to my face any other time of the year but it's our ribbon. That's how we look at it. It's also a lot of fun. We get people from all walks of life - lawyers, accountants, bar guys, sporting heroes, mechanics to milkmen, even a few mos in Parliament this year. There are hundreds of passionate people that really drive Movember. We just provide the bus. All you guys put the passion in and the fund raising just happens.

Do you ever hear of any problems for mo bros at work with companies who aren't happy about it?
We get that all the time. Some start off saying no but then the next year, you'll see mos from the CEO down. This year we've got companies like Sainsbury's, Tescos, M&S, PWC - we even had the Federal Police Authority in Australia all growing them last year. We're changing the face of men's health and the workplace too.

Out of all the mos you see, which are the ones that have impressed you the most?

The one that always gets me is a guy called David from Barcelona. He's amazing. Last year he grew a moustache that started with an M on his left cheek and went into an O on his right, so that his mo actually said MO. He's hilarious. He e-mailed us the first year he did it a couple of months after the event saying: "So how long are we supposed to keep these things for anyway?" From then on he just seems to keep them all year round and shaves again for the beginning of each Movember.

And how far do you expect Movember to go? What's the vision for you guys?
You'll see Obama with a mo. You'll see it. It's going to happen. Actually, we're going to Downing Street this year, so we'll have a chat with Gordon and see if we can get him to do one too. Really though, it's all about awareness. One man dies every hour from prostate cancer in this country alone and it's curable from early detection in 90% of the cases. The money we raise is great but go to a doctor. That's what we want you to do. There are key markers to look for at all age groups. We should all be going in for check ups.

How's your mo growing going this year?
It's great when it starts. I get on the Tube, you can see other mo bros with them starting to kick in and you get nods from each other. This year, I've got a handlebar going at the minute, just so as I have a canvass of something to work with later for the Gala party. The thing is though that you don't choose the mo. The mo chooses you when you look in the mirror and then your 30-day journey with you and your moustache begins.

Are there any particular mo growing products you recommend?
Dermalogica. They're actually sponsoring the event this year and, honestly, I'm not pushing the product. I'd never do that kind of thing. When we first got it in the office, I just thought, "yeah, another shaving balm" but it's amazing. We had Jackie Hughes growing a mo down at Mo's Emporium the other day. This is the guy who I like to think of as the love child of the Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop - and even he's standing there going "Dermalogica. How good is that stuff?".

Thanks for taking the time out to speak to Pocket-lint today, but before we let you go, we have to ask you the most important question. Who's the most inspiring mo bro out there for you?
It's got to be Magnum, hasn't it? We talk about this all the time. Jimi Hendrix is obviously another great one but you ask that question to everyone everywhere and they always say Magnum. He lives in a house in Hawaii, he drives a Ferrari, he has ladies everywhere and he does it all in a Hawaiian shirt - and his best mate has a helicopter! That's hard to beat.

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