Remember when Budweiser renamed a Colorado town for a week as a stunt to sell Bud Light? Well, a similar situation is going on except instead of a week it’s forever and instead of a small mountain town it’s the nation of the Czech Republic.
Named Czechoslovakia in 1918 after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the nation took on the name of Czech Republic after its own 1993 collapse. Now the nation of just over 10 million would very much like the world to just call it Czechia.
Czechia is not a name from some week-long crowdsourced stunt—it’s the name the nation has used in some form since 1993. In fact, the nation’s official name Czech Republic was designed by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs for use only in official documents and formal situations. The nation was supposed to be known regionally—to tourists and the like—as Czechia. But the name preference never stuck.
In 1997, the nation even established The Civic Initiative Czechia to promote the name, it has a website and Facebook page and everything but most still call it the Czech Republic—or worse, “the old Czechoslovakia.”
Now the name Czechia will be officially added to the list of short form names at the United Nations.
Nesouhlasim s nazvem "Czechia". Nechci, aby si nasi zemi pletli s Cecenskem. Mame za miliardu koupeno logo Czech Republic.To hodlam prosadit
— Karla Slechtova (@SlechtovaKarla) April 14, 2016
Not everyone is a fan though. One Czechian minister tweeted, reasonably, that the name was too similar to “Chechnya” and that unwanted confusion was inevitable. Eighteen users retweeted her sentiment.
But many are in favor. The Guardian even gets into the spirit by imagining the other nations that could use a more friendly rename. The suggestions include Iceland, ¡Cuba!, the Republic of Pacino and “Regular Korea.”
In its argument for officially using Czechia, officials note that the rebrand will “make it easier for companies and sports teams to use it on products and clothing.”
Business Insider points out one immediate marketing beneficiary: beer. It notes that delicious Pilsner Urquell is brewed in the west Bohemian city of Plezen and currently states “Brewed in Plezen-Czech” on its label.
The former Czech Republic formerly known as Czechoslovakia isn’t the only small nation to flirt with a new name recently. The leader of Zazakhstan floated the idea of renaming to Kazak Eli (“Kazakh Nation”) in part because the suffix “stan” has become loaded and burdensome. The gambit was later dropped, described by other leaders as “media tricks.”
It remains to be seen if the Czech name will take or if the nation will be left in limbo like Myanmar. We mean Burma. No, Myanmar. No, it’s Burma. Myanmar.