News and analysis
December 17, 2014

'Beard Baubles' Pique Interest in Australian Charity’s Melanoma Drive

Photo: Grey London/Courtesy of Beard Season

December finds many people decking their halls — and this year their facial hair, too.

Beard Season, an Australian nonprofit, that works to raise awareness of melanoma, teamed up with the British ad agency Grey London to promote Beard Baubles, a campaign that is selling tiny ornaments designed to hang from the chins of men with sufficient scruff. The hashtag #BeardBaubles is being used to promote the sale.

"The support has been phenomenal," Scott Maggs, the founder of Beard Season, said in an email.

For two years, Beard Season has encouraged men to grow their facial hair for the winter to raise awareness of the importance of skin-cancer screenings. Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, according to the Australian cancer-control agency Cancer Institute NSW.

"We focus on gentlemen because they generally think they’re bulletproof and are the least likely to visit a dermatologist — hence the most at risk," said Mr. Maggs, who goes by the name Jimmy Niggles when serving as the face — and beard — of Beard Season.

The campaign has raised hundreds of pounds during its first few days. Though that isn’t a lot of money by most fundraising standards, Mr. Maggs is happy with the amount of publicity the campaign has generated.

"The real goal of the #BeardBaubles isn’t raising funds, it’s inspiring action, and every day now, hundreds of people are signing up as Beard Season Ambassadors on our website, following us on social media, booking skin checks, and spreading the word," he said. "We’ve generated millions in earned media, and if we can save at least one life through early detection of melanoma, then it’s all been worthwhile."

The money raised will help fund a charity photography exhibition in March at the Somerset House Arts Center in London, titled "Beard." The show will feature portraits of impressive facial hair from around the world, including Mr. Maggs’s beard. According to The Telegraph, Grey London originally devised the idea to take a fun photo for its company Christmas card, and then decided to sell sets of the decorations and donate all proceeds to Beard Season.

Facial-hair-themed publicity efforts seem endemic to Australia, which gave rise to Movember, the health-awareness organization that calls on men to sport mustaches during the month of November. While Movember now has international reach, the Beard Baubles campaign marks Beard Season’s first foray into the Northern Hemisphere.

Sold for £7, Beard Baubles are currently out of stock, but the retail website directs people who are desperate to decorate their whiskers to several eBay listings, where the kits are now selling for more than £30.

Send an e-mail to Rebecca Koenig.