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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  The Power of Silly: A Hairy Lesson For Our Logical Brains


The Power of Silly: A Hairy Lesson For Our Logical Brains

Posted on November 14, 2012 and read 2,089 times

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PJ The Power of Silly: A Hairy Lesson For Our Logical BrainsPJ Pereira
Chief Creative Officer
Pereira & O’Dell

As I shaved off my one-year-old beard on Halloween night, I looked at my wife’s face through the mirror. She gave me a supportive look, silently acknowledging the forthcoming consequences for herself and the planet.  November is here, and once again, her husband and hundreds of thousands of men around the world are growing their itchy, un-sexy mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health.

PJ Moustache 182x261 The Power of Silly: A Hairy Lesson For Our Logical Brains

PJ growing his mo

The Movember movement is an idea created by a few friends from Australia in 2003. The premise is quite simple: mustaches nowadays are odd enough that growing one will likely start a conversation. So if a lot of men suddenly start to grow theirs at the same time, the collective “Why are you doing this?!” will be much louder and more frequent. And once people ask, we can tell them everything about prostate and testicular cancer, the stats, the challenges, and the hope. Even if they don’t make a donation immediately, the concept is so memorable that every time they see another mustache it will come to their mind, and eventually a donation will come. It’s impossible to resist and easy to remember, which is marketing gold. But there is a reason this idea didn’t come from the corporate world.

Movember challenges logic in every possible way. Common sense says it would be much better, easier and direct to launch a campaign asking people to spread a long email with stats about prostate cancer. Or create a viral video with strong images and powerful facts. Or do walks, or rides or runs.. But no. The organizers decided to make men look funny to indirectly raise these same issues. Exactly the kind of thing that marketers around the world would consider too counterintuitive and convoluted to work.

That’s precisely why Movember is an example that should be studied by anyone contemplating a silly idea. In a world dominated by engineers, lawyers, MBAs and other brilliant, but highly logical thinkers, oftentimes “stupid” thoughts are thrown away just because they don’t make sense. Yes, a lot of them don’t. But making sense isn’t necessarily a good way to judge if an idea is good or bad. Powerful ideas often come from the universe of non-sense. Or at least the indirect-sense. Despite what your mathematical brain will tell you, not-so-straight logical lines are sometimes the best way to make people stop, pay attention, and join. Because of their nature, these odd thoughts are easy to kill, but when they do survive to see the world, they usually are immediately identified as the very essence of what we call “creative” or “genius.”

Collectively growing hair under our noses is a silly, maybe outrageous idea. It takes an incredibly serious matter and treats it with multiple layers of mockery — but still infuses it with dignity and sense of purpose. Movember’s motto, “Knowledge is power, mustache is king,” doesn’t say everything. It says just enough to make you laugh even before you have a chance to judge, then makes you curious to know more or at least remember it forever. And that’s why it works.

The now global concept of “grow your mo”  during the month of November has raised over $300 million dollars since its inception and $126 million last year alone. It has recruited 1.9 million registered ambassadors around the world and this month will have its largest number of activist mustaches ever. This November, you will see them around. And when you do, you will think about everything you just read. That’s the power of silly.






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