Making Movember MOVE – interview with Mimi Jonas Sroka (video)

21 May 2015

Mimi Jonas Sroka

Every November men across the world sport all kinds of facial furniture for a good cause. Movember’s Mimi Jonas Sroka says social media and core values are key to the Movember movement’s future.

LA-based Sroka recalled how Movember began. In 2003, a group of around 30 young men in a pub thought it would be funny to grow facial hair for the month of November and annoy their wives and girlfriends.

The first foray gave these men an idea to try and raise money for cancer research and when they presented the idea to the Prostate Cancer Association of Australia they were laughed out of the room.

Rather than let the matter lie, the next year 480 men raised AUS$41,000, the biggest donation that the Prostate Cancer Association of Australia had ever received up to that point.

“It was a catalyst for change. Our vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health,” Sroka said, pointing to how Movember has spawned the Moscars online video competition and the MOVE effort to encourage people to do more physical things like train for a 5K for 30 days.

“Last November there were some 5m male and female participants in Movember all over the world and to date some US$650m has been funded through 800 programmes throughout the world.

“Our values are to be fun, innovative, caring and to be change agents.

“The social impact online has been considerable and it involved putting a moustache on Big Ben and even the Cliffs of Moher.”

The social media dynamic of Movember has been embraced by other causes, most notably the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But rather than be threatened by new causes Sroka says the new trends only force Movember to up its game.

“ALS [Ice Bucket Challenge], we love it. For all intents and purposes it drives us to be even more disruptive and innovative.”

She said that Movember is continually evaluating new social media platforms. “We’ve created custom filters on Snapchat for example and this has resulted in shots making it into Instagram. We are looking at Periscope but we tend to listen and evaluate new platforms carefully rather than distract ourselves.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years