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Interview: Justin Coghlan, co-founder of the Movember Foundation

Interview: Justin Coghlan, co-founder of the Movember Foundation

“Men don’t talk, don’t take action and are dying too young. We want to change that,” say Justin Coghlan (JC) one of the co-founders of Movember.

The Movember Foundation began in 2003, when two friends – Travis Garone and Luke Slattery the founders of Movember – met up at a pub in Melbourne, Australia. It was at this point in time that they first thought of the foundations million dollar idea; to grow a moustache for charity and keep it for a month. Garone and Slattery went on to find 30 men willing to grow a moustache, which at the time was an out-dated fashion.

But the moustache journey only began for JC in 2004 when he joined the foundation to kick things off in Queensland, Australia. This is where he now manages a team that delivers campaigns across 14 countries including the UK and Ireland. Additionally, he is involved in all of Movember’s relationships with their men’s health partners and commercial partners. At the same time, Adam Garone joined as a co-founder and registered the Movember Foundation and created the brands’ website.

But it was JC's experience that gave him the ability to work on the brand. “I worked extensively in the Australian media industry with News Corp and IPMG [which are] two of the largest media groups in the country as well as a number of UK titles,” says JC.

While working in the media, JC’s role was focused on “building brands, marketing and sales, as well as growing network divisions.
I was driven by project-based work, concepts and startups.” Until he eventually decided to “move out of media and went on to new challenges creating businesses in manufacturing, food, property, and now in the charity space with Movember.”

Reflecting on when he first joined Movember JC says, “The moustache at the time had all but disappeared, and we wanted to bring it back, as there was so many great moustaches that changed the world. We knew we wanted to use it as a catalyst to create change, start conversations and have fun along the way.”

Re-starting this trend was therefore the key to generate attention around men’s health, “The movement is about real men growing real moustaches, talking about real issues to help change the face of men’s health,” adds JC.

With the organisation turning November into Movember – the month for growing a moustache – space for conversation has been created and a focus has been brought to men’s health.

This is particularily important considering the World Health Orgnaization states that “Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was five years in 1990 and had remained the same by 2013.”

Prostate Cancer UK states that, “In 2012 in the UK around 10,800 men died from prostate cancer, that's 30 every day.”

Making men open their eyes to health problems is at the heart of everything The Movember Foundation do, “When it comes to their health, too many men don’t take action. The Movember Foundation wants to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives and invests in four key areas: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity,” says JC.

Adding: “Since 2003, five million have joined the Movember men’s health movement around the world, across 21 countries. [Which has] raised an incredible £400 million, funding over 1,000 programmes through impact investments that focus on collaborative research, and survivorship pathways for men living with and beyond prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity.”

The organisation names those who participate ‘Mo Bros’ – male participants and ‘Mo Sistas’ – female participates (who can get involved by signing up to the charity and raising funds and awareness for men’s health). The foundation has developed extensively since it first began and now has a wide range of events that both men and women can get involved in to support and promote men’s health. For example: MOVE; a new initiative encouraging Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to get physically active and make a commitment to improve their health while raising funds.

By 2004 – one year after establishing Movember – the charity had raised £21,184 with all of the funds going to Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, which was a great accomplishment. But they wanted to take Movember further.

The foundation received official charity status in Australia in 2006, and by this time they had raised a staggering £4,253,060 and had branched out to New Zealand and had involved 65,924 men and women.

Going from strength to strength, the charity decided to launch Movember in the US in 2007. The positive reaction to their charity continued, and by 2008 Ireland and Australia, Canada, Ireland, Spain, UK and USA were all participating in their campaigns.

JC feels that Movember has managed to get men from around the world involved because of the enjoyable nature of the charity. “It’s about having fun and doing good. Everyone wants to see what they look [like] with a manly moustache, and the journey Mo Bros go on over the 30 days of Movember is amazing.”

Men growing moustaches for charity allows for a highly visible “opportunity to start conversations, spread awareness and raise funds for a really good cause”.

With the driving force of raising awareness of men’s health, the organisation continued to expand across the globe. In 2010 they launched in South Africa and in 2011, they also launched in Belgium, Norway and Denmark, and additionally gained official charity status in Canada, England, Wales and Scotland.

JC is also sporting a moustache himself because as he says, “you’ve got to practice what you preach”.

Hearing real life stories is what he has found most inspirational during his time so far at the Movember Foundation.

“They remind us what Movember is about. A couple of years ago we were sent an email from a 20-year-old Mo Bro who saw a Movember Facebook post, checked himself and found a lump. He emailed us ten minutes after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, which was just caught in time, telling us ‘if it wasn't for your campaign, I could have had the rest of my life affected’,” he says.

By 2012, the Movember Foundation continued to expand officially launching campaigns in Austria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland. By this time, they had also raised £269,052,894 and a total of 3,058,500 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas have been involved in their campaigns.

Being ranked 72nd out of the top 500 non-governmental organisations was another great success for the foundation, and JC describe being a part of the Movember Foundation as a privilege.

Reflecting on his experience he says “working with some of the most passionate and dedicated people on earth, they humble me everyday and are the true change agents under the hood of the Movember engine”.

Now in 2015, the charities’ success is undeniable having raised £402 million and involving 4,746,905 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas. Looking to the future of the Movember Foundation JC says, “We have the opportunity right now to create a world where boys being born in 2015 can live as long as the girls. We want to close the gap.”

Adding that he wants to see, “A world where no man need die of prostate or testicular cancer and where the best possible treatment options are available for those who are suffering with the disease. We also want to see men living with and beyond mental health issues, and all men taking action for their own health.”

Men and women can sign up at to grow, give or MOVE for the 30 days of Movember.


Movember Foundation –

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