IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MATTEL, UNO - Jess Brown, left, picks up a deck of UNO cards and an UNO postcard as Juneau Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove, right, and her daughter, Natalie, look on in the city's Assembly Chambers on Friday, April 1, 2016. As part of an April Fools' promotion, the city of Juneau and Mattel announced a renaming of Juneau to UNO. (Michael Penn/AP Images for Mattel, UNO)

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MATTEL, UNO - Jess Brown, left, picks up a deck of UNO cards and an UNO postcard as Juneau Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove, right, and her daughter, Natalie, look on in the city's Assembly Chambers on Friday, April 1, 2016. As part of an April Fools' promotion, the city of Juneau and Mattel announced a renaming of Juneau to UNO. (Michael Penn/AP Images for Mattel, UNO)

City renamed ‘UNO’ in April Fools’ prank

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.”

The city changed its website back to normal later Friday afternoon, Kiefer said.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MATTEL, UNO - Amy Skilbred, Executive Director of the Juneau Community Foundation, walks away from Juneau, Alaska's City Hall with a $15,000 check presented to her by Mattel on Friday, April 1, 2016. As part of an April Fools' promotion, the city of Juneau and Mattel announced a renaming of Juneau to UNO. (Michael Penn/AP Images for Mattel, UNO)

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MATTEL, UNO – Amy Skilbred, Executive Director of the Juneau Community Foundation, walks away from Juneau, Alaska’s City Hall with a $15,000 check presented to her by Mattel on Friday, April 1, 2016. As part of an April Fools’ promotion, the city of Juneau and Mattel announced a renaming of Juneau to UNO. (Michael Penn/AP Images for Mattel, UNO)

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MATTEL, UNO - Former Mayor and current Assembly member Mary Becker watches as Juneau Community Charter School students Clinton McQueen, 11, left, Brynna Morgan, 8, center, and Lamar Blatnick, 9, play a game of UNO in the Assembly Chambers in Juneau, Alaska, on Friday, April 1, 2016. As part of an April Fools' promotion, the city of Juneau and Mattel announced a renaming of Juneau to UNO. (Michael Penn/AP Images for Mattel, UNO)

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MATTEL, UNO – Former Mayor and current Assembly member Mary Becker watches as Juneau Community Charter School students Clinton McQueen, 11, left, Brynna Morgan, 8, center, and Lamar Blatnick, 9, play a game of UNO in the Assembly Chambers in Juneau, Alaska, on Friday, April 1, 2016. As part of an April Fools’ promotion, the city of Juneau and Mattel announced a renaming of Juneau to UNO. (Michael Penn/AP Images for Mattel, UNO)

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Most Read