Brno activists subvert slogan to challenge City Hall
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.
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, zitbrno.cz, 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.”
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.
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.