|June 16, 2010|
|PR and the Vuvuzela|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Despite sounding like a cross between a swarm of honey bees and my neighbor's European vacuum cleaner, the plastic vuvuzela -- cursed or beloved instrument of the World Cup -- has got a 5,000-follower Twitter account, smartphone apps, and millions upon millions of people talking about it.|
With the controversy over whether to ban the droning instruments, interest has only heightened.
Sounds like a full-blown PR fad to me.
U.K. PR pro Heather Yaxley says it's only a matter of time: "We adore a bit of popular word of mouth – and mark my word, the vuvuzela linked press releases will be equally irritating in their volume."
Mark Faggiano, who runs San Diebo-based Brand5, sees the vuvuzela craze as a reminder that viral marketing is not something that can be planned.
"Want more proof that viral is unpredictable? The latest example is a 3 foot piece of plastic, that probably costs 50 cents to make, has the whole world talking," he writes. "The bottom line is this: we all want to create the next great viral sensation. But the vuvuzela reminds us that viral can, and usually does, happen purely by accident."
South African PR pro Putco Mafani, who worked for the country's Kaizer Chief's soccer club, is credited with helping spread the "vuvuzela movement" during his tenure with the team. He told a South African news site that the instruments recall the roots of horns as African instruments used in war and celebration.
"I remember back in my days at Kaizer Chiefs, I’d enter the stadium and shout 'say vuvuzela' [blow the vuvuzela] and immediately the fans would start blowing vuvuzelas and that was the cue for players to start playing and it used to get the mood right," he said.
Don't expect a ban any time soon as long as the tournament is on African soil.
"The baboon is killed by a lot of noise. We make as much noise as we can to confuse our opponents on the field," said Mafani. "Remember this game is not like golf or tennis, where you are actively encouraged to keep quiet. This is a loud game."
Added South African sports marketing executive Bevill Bachmann: "The 2010 World Cup would not be reaching its full status of a truly African World Cup without the atmosphere which the vuvuzela has created at our stadiums and other event venues."
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