Observers of the American Mustache Institute (AMI) understand we typically use humor in delivering our unique brand of advocacy. Today, however, we diverge from our traditional tact to discuss a somewhat sad, and altogether exasperating matter.
When AMI launched its web presence in 2007, we had a very simple mission: Advocate for facial hair, use humor to do so, and always include a charitable component. As a result our online real estate would always be an available resource for any charitable endeavor that may appeal to the sexually dynamic Mustached American people.
We’ve supported organizations including Mustaches for Kids, Challenger Baseball, Moustache March, the Barrow Neurological Institute, the Make A Wish Foundation, and dozens of others. Therefore, it made sense when some five years ago, Movember CEO Adam Garone contacted AMI upon the organization’s entry into the United States for the first time.
We gladly offered assistance, but since then have had a complex relationship to say the least, leading us to quietly withdraw our support in 2013 and moving forward.
Indeed, in past years, while AMI has organized teams for Movember and publicly promoted vast levels of support for the organization in media appearances, on our website, and in social media channels – the response from Movember has not been reciprocated.
In fact, our relationship has included:
- Conflictingly dishonest emails from Garone about sponsor relations.
- Being told by Movember employee Bubba that we “should feel privileged that Movember is allowing you to raise money for the organization,” after AMI had committed to defer proceeds from our 2010 charitable benefit.
- And when AMI was conducting its charitable ‘Stache Act campaign in March 2012, we asked Movember to make a simple statement of public endorsement about the campaign at an event. Garone refused, calling our request “inappropriate.”
The pattern has been consistent and troubling, especially when you consider that AMI in no way competes with Movember. We are not a $200 million not-for-profit like Movember, nor do we have desire to become one. AMI serves only as a portal for others, as an analysis of the social media discussion about Movember demonstrates that between 2010-11 its brand was discussed more on AMI’s social media properties and website than any other digital properties outside of Movember’s own.
But here’s the core of the matter: From the U.S. Beard Team to Build-A-Beard to Mustaches For Kids and every bizarre mustache and beard group in between — America’s facial hair community has always been immensely supportive of its own. It’s why every Bearding convention offers AMI an invite, it’s why Phil Olsen of the U.S. Beard Team invites us to every competition, and its why Olsen marched with AMI at the Million Mustache March last April.
Let’s be very clear: Movember’s cause is unquestionably commendable — raising awareness and funds for cancers facing men. That is why we waited until the end of this year’s campaign to make this announcement, and only did so because many Americans have asked us over the past month to help them promote their varying Movember events.
However, the organization’s culture and manner in which it treats those that support it is often arrogant and rather shameful. And that is not to say that we believe every person associated with running Movember is bad or troubled. Not at all, and in fact we’ve had very nice interactions with organizational staffers Lisa and Donny.
But in the end, organizations are defined by their leaders, and we hope that Movember and its CEO recognize they do not exist in a bubble. No one wins unless we all win. And at some point the organization’s and CEO’s arrogance will damage its mission and brand.