News, technology

Topeka, Kansas Temporarily Changes Name To Google

Amy Rose Spiegel :: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 12:20 pm

On Monday, it was announced that Topeka, Kansas, is changing its name for a month.  Is the name change meant to honor a historical figure who hails from the Midwestern town?  Is it an homage to a groundbreaking event that took place in Topeka that changed the world for the better?  Well, not exactly.  Instead, Topeka is temporarily changing its name to, um, Google.

Although it might seem like an inventive advertising scheme (or maybe a creepy corporation/city hybrid like Disney’s Celebration, Florida), the name-change was done without any collaboration with Google itself.  In fact, the company’s spokespeople have declined to comment on the story.  In a strange inversion of the typical relationship between companies and the locales that display their advertisements, Topeka is using Google’s name and reputation to raise awareness about their town.

Google recently announced it would be testing its “Fiber For Communities” program in at least one city, and Topeka is clearly vying for the spot.  The program will install incredibly fast Internet connections in the location selected.  The change in speed is allegedly about one hundred times faster than the average Internet connection, with data transfer rates at over one gigabyte a second.  Topeka is interested in becoming the test city in order to draw in young people and update its boring image.

In an article on, the mayor of Tope-…sorry, Google, Bill Bunten, describes his town as a lake-filled leader in the animal-food research market.  For some reason, this doesn’t seem to mesh with Google, the ultimate modern brand.  The name-change seems like a silly case of false advertising.  It’s illogical to slap a modern label on a sleepy Midwestern town in hopes that people won’t notice that the place itself is far from cutting-edge.  Maybe if the town focused on progressive industrial and cultural projects, they wouldn’t have to resort to corporate worship in order to get publicity.