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Pat Branson – Kodiak’s mayor on the Alaskan island of the same name – is excited about the campaign: “It’s a real boost for our beautiful town.” Pat Branson is also very proactive in the campaign. First thing on Friday, 6th May, she explains the story of the Q in an interview with the local KMXT radio station; by midday, she watches as the town sign is swapped over – from a K to a Q – at Deadman’s Curve on the Chiniak highway; and in the afternoon, she hands out Q stickers to the town’s residents. After all, they are also involved and are replacing the second K with a Q wherever possible.

The ŠKODA Kodiaq will carry the name of our beautiful town across the world. With Kodiaq’s name day, this connection will become even stronger.

Pat Branson, Mayor of Kodiak

Kodiaq! Instead of Kodiak.

The story of the Q is extremely unusual! It’s a very rare occurrence for a town to change its name. For one day only. We can’t be sure, of course – but we presume that it’s never happened before. At least not before today, 6th May 2016. Because this is when Kodiak – Alaska, USA – celebrated its name day. Kodiak became Kodiaq in honour of something new, something big that hasn’t yet made its entrance. The new SUV from ŠKODA, which will make its debut in the second half of the year, has been given a name that is as strong as a bear – Kodiaq. Because in the language of the native Alutiiq people, this is not only the name of their Alaskan island, but also the world’s largest brown bear. And this is the perfect namesake for a large and powerful SUV from the Czech Republic, with a protective nature, a strong sense of family and a high level of outdoor expertise.

The landscape in Kodiak is so spectacular, so diverse and so vivid. At times, we weren’t sure where to start filming.

Matej Samal, Film director
 

Around 3,500 Kodiak bears, measuring up to 3 metres (!) and weighing up to 700 (!) kilograms, live on this island off the southern coast of Alaska, situated about 650 kilometres from Anchorage. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge gives them an abundance of space; after all, Kodiak Island is as large as Corsica. There is still enough room for the island’s 24,000 residents, about 6,500 of whom live in the town of Kodiak. With rugged mountains, narrow fjords, hidden lakes and thick forests, the Kodiak landscape is the ideal terrain for an SUV like the new ŠKODA Kodiaq – here it can prove its qualities, power and suitability for everyday use under the harshest conditions.

ŠKODA has extensively researched life on Kodiak Island, where the culture and language of the native people, the Alutiiq, are currently experiencing a renewed respect and something of a renaissance – including online dictionaries and language courses: www.alutiiqlanguage.org.

The Alutiiq refer to the Kodiak bear as Taquka’aq – the letter ‘q’ at the end is typical for the names of people, and also for their animals. ŠKODA has adopted the letter for the new SUV’s model name, thereby paying its own respect to the language of the Alutiiq. At the same time, the ‘q’ creates a very unique and distinctive name.

This change goes straight to our hearts, it touches our innermost depths. But I like the idea. The Kodiaq spelling demonstrates respect towards the native inhabitants in this area.

Jay Barrett, News Director at KMXT Kodiak Public Radio

The people who live on Kodiak are wonderful. They are extremely close to nature, honest, as well as being open-minded and inquisitive. We were really delighted about how enthusiastically they have supported Kodiaq’s name day.

Juraj Rothenbühler, ŠKODA Marketing Communications

Mayor Branson grew up in Batavia near Chicago. So, although she personally doesn’t have any Alutiiq blood, she is, of course, extremely proud of her adopted home. And when the request to ‘lend’ her town’s name to the new SUV came from Mladá Boleslav in the Czech Republic, she supported it immediately – even the tiny change: the Q instead of the second K. Of course, she obtained permission from her six colleagues at Kodiak City Council for the temporary renaming. This was however a mere formality.

So it’s now 6th May, Kodiaq’s name day. Council workers Anthony White and Daniel Beehler have already installed the new ‘Kodiaq City Limit’ sign on Chiniak Highway, now it’s the turn of the mighty ‘Port of Kodiaq’ sign, for pier 3 in the harbour. James R. Mullican, the chief of the Kodiak Fire Brigade has it easier: a small self-adhesive ‘Q’ is enough to rename the fire engines. Taxis, shops, warehouses, fishing boats (the main source of income for the people here), as well as the official town website are all being ‘corrected’ on this day.

There is a lot of work for ŠKODA’s ten-strong film crew, who are documenting the close bond between the residents in Alaska and the future ŠKODA SUV – whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Because the enthusiasm from the people of Kodiak, or rather Kodiaq, is palpable in each scene. This includes imitating the cries of bears at the top of their voices and learning to pronounce the Q... 

Photo: ŠKODA AUTO a.s., Pavel Picek @ Armada Films