Whistles to Quidditch at Fox40 Worldwide

Carina Fato    October 20, 2016

If you’ve played sports or watched almost any team sport you know the sound of the referees whistle. Those 3 different tones are clear and identifiable and their source is a Fox 40 pea-less whistle. What you may not know is that the pea-less whistle was developed and designed by Hamilton Ontario basketball referee  Ron Foxcroft. His turning point came when he encountered the failure of his standard  cork-pea whistle. Worst of all, it occurred during a game he was officiating in the Montreal 1976 Olympics, with 18,000 booing spectators in the stands.  This event changed his life and the sports world forever. The complete story of Fox 40 whistle is on the company’s website.


Since 1980, Fox40 Worldwide has grown into a multi-product manufacturer and are suppliers of marine safety kitsmouthguardssmart coaching boards, and imprinted products (to name a few).

What I learned was surprising and unexpected: they do not use their social media platforms to data gathering and sifting towards product innovation and development.   I was further surprised to learn that their business model is one that is not fully  based on a social media platform devoted to product development. They are however doing an adequate job in promoting their business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

The corporate culture at Fox40 Worldwide is still used to traditional methods (face-to-face sales, trade shows and agents) and there is no question it works well for them. They receive important real-time feedback from their re-sellers (retailers) and commercial clients (sports associations).

At the same time they apply new methods of information-gathering by being watchful of their brand representation on their retailer’s social media accounts, partner’s tweets, and monitoring worldwide urban trends. Through these methods they respond well to new markets:

  • New partnership with Quidditch Canada ; a fast growing recreational sports game that evolved from the Harry Potter series.
  • Custom imprinted mouth-guards launched after images of professional players using this product (different colors and flags) were tweeted. These unexpected tweets created a large new demand and new product line.
  • Product feedback posted by consumers on Facebook contributed to the fine tuning and improvement of  products – i.e: a situation where negative comments on Facebook helped resolve issues regarding battery life for electronic whistles.

“We put out the fire before it even got started (as the saying goes) thanks to the Facebook and Twitter comments.” – Janice

For a company that doesn’t capitalize wholly on the powers of social media for product innovation they are doing reasonably well.  Their few new-found gains through the use of other external social media outlets has proven successful …one can only imagine how more successful they could be if they committed to a product development with their own social media platforms and the untapped growth they could bring to market.

Lessons for Others

  • Perhaps  there is skepticism as outlined in “Hype Cycle”by Fenn and Raskino (2008)  ?
  • Is the lack of depth of social media use reflective of a lack of available human resources in an organization?
  • Is there fear that some organizations view Social Media  as simply not personable enough?

Attitudes of the “social” landscape are  always changing.  As important as it is to have a whistle in a marine rescue kit, it’s important for a company’s product development team to establish social media listening stations and dashboards. These are both important and effective tools to measure responses in another version of real time.

Organization: FOX 40 Worldwide
Industry: Manufacturing
Name of Organization Contact: Janice Boychuk

Authored by: Carina Fato

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Fox40Worldwide – www.Fox40Worldwide.com

Harry Potter –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_(film_series)

Quidditch Canada – http://www.quidditchcanada.com/

Hype Cycle”by Fenn and Raskino (2008) –  file:///C:/Users/Carina/Downloads/ARP3(1)_102-107.pdf