Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Qantas Airlines Celebrates 'Mo'vember

MSNBC: Even the smoothest flights will be plenty hairy for passengers on one Qantas Airways plane through the rest of the month.

The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, is being decorated with a nose-cone mustache to spread the word that it’s not November.

It’s Movember!

“Mo” is Australian slang for mustache and the designated vehicle for what four Melbourne men admit is the laziest way to raise money and awareness in the battle against deadly prostate cancer.

It’s like a 5K for couch potatoes.

“We call it the hairy ribbon,” Adam Garone, Movember CEO and one of four co-founders, told msnbc.com. “Our motto is, ‘Changing the face of men’s health. We want to use growing a mustache to get men talking about prostate cancer, and this is a fun way to do it.”

It all started at a 2003 backyard party when Garone and his mates were talking about how every fashion eventually recycles and becomes popular again.

All but one.

“We talked about mustaches and how popular they were in the 1970s and ‘80s,” he said. “But they never came back. There were 30 of us, and we decided to devote the month to growing mustaches.”

Expecting support, they received revulsion. Garone said his girlfriend hated it and his bosses at Vodofone forbid him from making sales calls, reactions that only added to the fun.

So the next year they decided to do it again — only this time for a good cause.

They marched into the local headquarters of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The organization said they’d welcome any funds they raised but, no, they were reluctant to affiliate with such silliness.

Little did they know the men had tapped into a perfectly manly way to reach men about an area they’re often reluctant to discuss. And it isn’t their funny bones.

In that first year, 450 friends raised $55,000 and the organization began sensing the so-called “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” were onto something that would soon take off in ways that had nothing to do with Australia’s iconic airline.

In addition to the mo-plane, Qantas spokeswoman Emma Kearns said the airline placed a giant mo on its Sydney terminal building. "We're proud to support Movember and are encouraging our team to 'grow a mo' for Movember," she said, adding that prizes for best mo will be given. Females are encouraged to add to the mo-mentum by sporting fakes.

The disease is personal at Qantas, where CEO Alan Joyce was treated for an aggressive form of prostate cancer earlier this year. Early detection, however, led to a successful operation and a return to work within a few weeks.

“My doctor told me that there was an 80 percent chance that I would have been dead within 10 years if it hadn’t been detected when it was,” the 45-year-old Joyce said in July.

Movember swooped into North America in 2007, and Garone said the mustache and nearly 500,000 global participants, including affiliates at Livestrong and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, have helped raise $174 million.

The stunt with Qantas thrills the group, who want to make facial hair to November what pink and breast cancer awareness are to October. They are optimistic more promotional stunts will ensue.

“I wouldn’t advocate vandalism over works of art, but the Mona Lisa would look great with a Photoshopped mustache,” he said.

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