‘Roadies to Their Rockstars’: How Movember is Using TikTok

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Dede Stewart
Latest posts by Dede Stewart (see all)

People are looking for more positivity in their lives after a dark start to 2020. Marketers for leading global charity Movember are set to lean into bringing “more light” to galvanize support for this year’s campaign. In doing so, they’ve turned to short-form mobile video app TikTok, once described as the “last sunny corner of the internet.”

Movember started off as a friendly challenge conceived in a Melbourne pub in 2003 and has since grown to a global fundraising movement focused around men’s health, with more than 5 million ‘Mo Bros and Sistas’ rallying behind the cause to date.

Speaking during TikTok Australia’s Competitive Positivity session at Advertising Week JAPAC, Rachel Carr, Movember’s Country Director, ANZ, said those fun competitive origins gave them many synergies with the TikTok platform.

She explained: “There’s something really special about the incredibly engaged community both TikTok and Movember have of those who are willing to do good to support one another as well as that challenge piece. Supporters want to share their stories and all of the different ways they’re fundraising and supporting important causes.”

This playful one-upmanship is what, as Movember Marketing Director Jason Olive tells the audience, is the driving force behind the success of the partnership.

Although this wasn’t always the intention, as he went on to reveal: “One of our challenges organizationally at Movember is reaching new audiences, and so TikTok was a platform that allowed us to speak to a slightly younger audience.

“When we first started working [with TikTok], our approach was all about driving traffic to our website. We were using the website as the main platform to then drive people into signing up for the event.”

Carr admitted she was shocked at the initial impact: “The web traffic for that particular event was absolutely phenomenal. The year on year growth that we saw was incredible and the majority of that was driven by the work that we did with TikTok.”

That early success convinced Movember there was an opportunity to make an impact using the platform, encouraging them to double down and evolve their strategy for promoting the May Eight Festival, a virtual event designed to bring friends together to check in on one another, held on May 8.

Olive explained the rationale behind the move: “The biggest piece for us was about recruiting new, younger audiences to the festival and finding the right people that would want to come along. We used TikTok as a platform to do that.”

When asked for his advice to other brands looking to engage different communities using the platform, Olive urged marketers to take a backseat and let the audience have fun and play with the brand and campaign idea in their own way.

He added: “It shouldn’t be a platform that people are afraid of. Spend some time thinking about the audience you’re trying to speak to. I think as marketers one of the challenges that we often have is relinquishing our control and letting other people, i.e. the customers or the people you’re speaking to, have a bit more control. It’s OK to let go sometimes.”

And letting go has paid off, allowing for the Movember team to recognize new opportunities such as the potential to use TikTok as an advocacy tool, something the brand has traditionally leaned into in its campaigns.

“The reason Movember has been so successful is that it’s very much grassroots, we’re led by activists,” Carr explained.

“How we describe it is, we’re the roadies to their rockstars, who are effectively our entire community and that is really how Movember will continue to be successful. It’s by really following the needs of our community and making sure that we’re engaged with the right channels and the right platforms.”

Olive added: “When we first started engaging with [TikTok], we used more of a content distribution approach, so it was more a platform for us to deliver a particular message. Where we’re starting to pivot and see the real and potential impact, is building more advocacy in the platform.

“By putting a message out to the audience and allowing them to go away and develop and evolve that message, rather than just us speaking at them.”

Carr shared how they’re doing this in their newest campaign, called Movember Conversations, which draws inspiration from a recent study conducted by Movember that found 52% of men haven’t had friends check in on them during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

She explained: “Movember Conversations is designed to help people start a conversation with a man in their life that might be struggling with mental health. It’s about helping them to identify the signs and starting a conversation that will hopefully unpack and get to the focus of what the real problem is. It’s really a tool that is designed to help give back.”

Olive added: “We wanted to create, essentially, a bit of a movement within the platform for people to check in with their friends and we’re supporting that with some advertising that targets them throughout that journey.”

Brett Armstrong, General Manager ANZ of TikTok, elaborated on this emerging trend of brands using TikTok to spread joy, a concept he refers to as “competitive positivity”.

He added: “This is what happens when you put positivity on a platform that creates trends. You create movements and you create positive forces for good.”

Asked what was being planned for the big Movember push at the end of the year, Carr said it would focus on continuing that positive message and spreading even more joy through its messaging.

She said: “One of the things that I love is that we are fighting to change the face of men’s health. There’s a really important and serious message behind our work, but the other side is the fun and social side, and our supporters get so creative every year in how they bring our brand to life for their own networks and for their own community on TikTok.

“This year has been a particularly dark year and what we really hope for is that by the time we get to November, we’ll be able to bring some light into people’s worlds, have an opportunity to connect and have that sense of belonging and purpose once again.”


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