Canadians Shine When We Have a Cause (… especially when we shave our heads bald to promote it!)

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2016 by

Patrick McGovern NoHairSelfie Shave-down

Canadians have a reputation for being shy about promoting themselves. Whether or not that’s true, we are certainly not shy about promoting our causes. In fact, we’re showing the rest of the world how to do it.

NoHairSelfie ThumbThe #NoHairSelfie campaign is a case in point. My involvement in this Canadian Cause-Marketing success story started by meeting a woman at an awards event. “You have a good head of hair there, Patrick. I wonder how you’d look bald.” she said. It was a conversation opener, I’ll give it that. And it ended with me agreeing to have my head shaved in the 2016 #NoHairSelfie campaign to support the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

The event we were both attending was the 2015 CAMP Marketing Awards, and the woman was Laura Syron, who moments later was accepting the award for Not-for-Profit Marketer of the Year on behalf of the Foundation. In 2015, the #NoHairSelfie campaign saw over 21,000 participants shave their heads either actually, or virtually through a smart phone app. And it exceeded it’s goal of raising $600,000 for cancer research, by a wide margin.

In Forbes, David Hessekiel has written that Canadians are emerging as cause marketing leaders. This campaign underscores the point once again. “The 2015 success of this campaign gave us the signal that other cancer foundations across the globe would also be interested,” said Ms. Syron, Vice President, Community Programs, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. The goal, she said, is “to create a global movement and greater awareness of cancer treatment.” For the 2016 campaign, both the Israel Cancer Association and the Cancer Association of South Africa joined the #NoHairSelfie movement.

Patrick NoHairSelfie Winning HatTo promote my involvement, I created a short video asking people to help me choose a hat to keep my bald head warm in the Canadian outdoors. It injected some fun and interactivity into the process—and helped me to almost triple my original fundraising goal! Of course, on the day, my Blade colleagues assisted me in doing the deed, and had some fun in the process.

And here’s a kicker: At the same time I was recording the head-sheering video saying, “every one of you watching this knows someone who’s been touched by cancer” a person very close to me, a person I’ve known all my life, happened to be sitting with her doctor at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary learning the results of her latest biopsy. She had been through two procedures already and had not told any of us back East that she was battling this disease—so as not to “worry” us.

Luckily the report was a good one. All the malignant cells had been eradicated and she received a good bill of health. I only learned about this the next day; but it happened on World Cancer Day, February 4th, while I was having my head shaved. For real! This thing hits close to home, folks—often without warning. We have to hit back hard; and the best weapon we have is research.

Check out my Hat Vote video… vote for a hat, and make a donation. Where else are you going to have a bit of fun, contribute to a worthy cause for humanity, and celebrate Canadian marketing ingenuity at the same time, all for five bucks?

In its latest press release, the Foundation says, “The total number of Hair-ticipants in our second-year event increased by 43%, and it is well on its way to raising $1.5 million for cancer research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world. The #NoHairSelfie Campaign will continue to accept donations until March 31, 2016.

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Posted in: Integrated Marketing, Social Trends
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Patrick McGovern

About Patrick McGovern

Well versed in both traditional and digital brand-building strategies, Patrick is Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Blade Creative Branding Inc. He brings an insightful perspective to modern marketing challenges, and takes a lead role in the new media and digital marketing initiatives of the agency's clients.


  • Sheila

    Well said! And very proud of your contribution to a great cause…