Love the Vuvuzela. Hate the Generic

I am not sure if the consistent droan of the vuvuzelas annoys me anymore. Or in fact if it ever did! But listening to colleagues today and Five Live on the way home this evening I know I’m not speaking for everyone. The BBC team in particular was lucky enough to encounter some very passionate advocates of a complete ban on these most exotic of wind instruments. “They’re annoying …” said Mick from Bristol. “It’s like a mosquito in your ear…” said Tony from Leeds. “It sounds like a schoolboy international…” said Matt. And my particular favourite: “I can’t hear the England fans singing and chanting on TV …” said Fabio (OK. I didn’t quite catch this chap’s name).

World Cup 2010 spectators wave their vuvuzela horns while watching the opening game between South Africa and Mexico in Durban. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
World Cup 2010 spectators wave their vuvuzela horns while watching the opening game between South Africa and Mexico in Durban. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Now I live close to the Heathrow flight path in TW1 so I probably get used to background noise quicker than most BUT surely, surely, surely the noise and atmosphere created will be one of the key elements that will make this World Cup what it will become –special and unique. The alternative – to ban the vuvuzela – is to celebrate the generic. To long for a World Cup just like the last one and the one to come. Think about it. Ban the vuvuzela? Where would we go next? Or perhaps more pertinently, what would our memories be made of if we had previously thought like this? Let’s take to our time machines, go back to Buenos Aries in 1978 for example and outlaw ticker tape. We could then set a course for the Azteca stadium in 1986 and stop people from standing up and throwing their arms in the air. Yes it’s a simple point yet I’m amazed to see the volume of counter arguments running rampant on twitter and the wires. This World Cup will be great in spite of global brands that sponsor it and the global media owners that cover it. It will be great because of a 30-yard pile driver from someone we least expect, a dazzling piece of artistry from a Messi or Kaka, a crazed celebration from Maradona and inevitably a penalty shoot-out for England. But more than that it will be great because of what Africa and African culture brings to it. It will be great because of the vuvuzela!

By Richard Mabbott, SVP, Planning at London marketing agency, gyro