Brno activists subvert slogan to challenge City Hall

Modified logo of Brno by - 'To Live Brno...somewhere else'

The Moravian capital Brno has seen a striking growth in civic activism in recent years, with a group of young people making effective use of technology and the media to highlight – and poke fun of – shortcomings at City Hall. Their biggest coup has been subverting Brno’s ungrammatical official slogan.

Modified logo of Brno by - 'To Live Brno...somewhere else'
A few years ago, Brno spent nearly three quarters of a million crowns on a campaign to rebrand the city. The result was the slogan Žít Brno. That literally translates as To Live Brno, which – as one of the consultants behind it conceded – doesn’t make grammatical sense.

One person bothered by the vacant-sounding slogan was Michal Kašpárek, a Brno patriot and author of a guidebook to the city.

“It is so terribly stupid – it sounds like some poetry broadcast in 1986 on socialist television. So I decided to purchase the domain,, and to make some fun of it… Honza had the idea to contact some creative people we knew. I contacted them, we met in a pub and in, like, one week, it was a big hit.”
Honza is Honza Boček, Kašpárek’s friend. Their group – including Matěj Hollan, possibly the country’s best known civic activist – essentially hijacked the name Žít Brno and used their own satirical site to have a go at local politicians and what they consider megalomaniacal plans to transform the city.

The rebranding consultants had said that BRNO was an acronym of four values, but then changed the first one to another quality becoming with B. Kašpárek and Co. went one further by changing the B to a K – for koncepce, or conception – thus creating KRNO. Krno became a kind of parody name for the city and quickly caught on via social media. Honza Boček:

“Actually we were quite surprised by how much reaction there was from the public. Many people were doing their own versions of ‘Krnos’ everywhere. There was one ‘Krno’ on the main train station.”

Now that the pranksters have won support (they have over 10,000 Facebook fans), the logical next step would seem to be to enter local politics themselves and try to make changes from within. But that wouldn’t work, says Michal Kašpárek.

Brno,  photo: Harold,  CC BY-SA 3.0
“If we did that we would end in a week in a big bloody fight. Because we don’t hold the same political views. I’m the right wing part of Žít Brno. There are some truly left-wing members. And we don’t any positive programme or things we want to do – we just want to change the way politicians behave and communicate.”

At the same time, the group are involved in some constructive activities; recently they began “guerrilla gardening” in Brno’s Jižní centrum (South Centre), a wasteland that the city’s leaders plan to one day turn into a business hub.