How much do the naming rights for the City and Borough of Juneau cost? No less than $15,000 dollars, apparently, but that’s only good for a loan for a few hours.
On Friday morning, the city announced that the toy company Mattel Inc. had purchased the naming rights to Juneau, renaming it the City and Borough of UNO. The city’s website was changed to reflect the change, and a banner was hung from City Hall, welcoming people to UNO, Alaska.
The name change was an April Fool’s prank, but was also a marketing push for a new version of UNO, featuring more wild cards. Mattel’s brand team came up with the idea for the prank, according to company spokesperson Candice Jacobson.
“They thought, ‘What could be a cool, fun partner to promote these new wild cars? Alaska, duh! It’s one of the most wild places,” Jacobson told the Empire Friday morning.
To get the city to go along with the joke, Mattel donated $15,000 to the Juneau Community Foundation’s Mayor Greg Fisk Memorial Fund, which supports youth programs.
Fisk’s son, Ian, oversees the fund but has not decided exactly what the money will go to yet, according to JCF Executive Director Amy Skilbred. The fund is specifically set up to help at-risk kids in Juneau.
“It’s a great vehicle for people who want to help at-risk youth, but don’t know exactly who to donate to,” Skilbred said. She didn’t know the exact amount of money in the fund as of Friday morning, but she said that Mattel’s donation would “double it easily.”
City Manager Kim Kiefer said that when Mattel asked where the money should go, the Mayor Greg Fisk Memorial Fund seemed like a natural choice.
As Jacobson handed a giant check to Kiefer and Skilbred in Assembly Chambers Friday morning she assured them that, unlike the name change, the money was for real.
“Although this is an April Fool’s Day prank, this check is not a joke,” she said.
Kiefer said the fairly elaborate prank was a couple weeks in the works, but it only required about two hours worth of staff time — one to change the website, and another to hang the banner from City Hall. Mattel took care of the rest.
“I think it’s important that we have some fun,” she told the Empire Friday morning.
Representatives from Mattel handed out UNO cards in the Assembly Chambers. Jacobson brought 500 decks of cards with here — about $2,000 worth of UNO cards — but the first two dozen decks were already spoken for.
About 25 kids from Juneau Community Charter School took a trip to the Assembly Chambers Friday morning to watch the check presentation and play UNO.
“It’s been so fun,” Jacobson said shortly before awarding the check. “I think you can see that from the reaction of everybody in this room.”