One answer is that they’re already here. Fifteen thousand vuvuzela-style horns were handed out at a Florida Marlins home game on June 19, and despite the players’ frustration — “I can’t tell you how awful it was,” said center fielder Cody Ross — the fans happily blew the house down. “[They] loved them,” says Sean Flynn, the Marlins’ vice president of marketing. “There was an unbelievable atmosphere.”
The Marlins’ marketing team didn’t bring them in on a bandwagon whim. As an homage to the South African World Cup, they ordered their branded horns back in February through Match-Up Promotions, which connected the Marlins and with a supplier in China, where 90% of the South African trumpets have reportedly been made. Match-Up counts 20 professional teams in the U.S. among their clients, from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Cleveland Indians. The company’s general manager, Adam Thornton, says the fervor over the Marlins’ horns — which got the team plenty of free publicity — has had their phone alight with inquiries from old and new customers. “It’s the perfect storm with the World Cup,” says Thornton. “It’s a rolling ball of publicity.”
And the craze could spread. Matt Bourne, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, says teams will often copy popular marketing gimmicks.