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03/25/03

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Companies to Bid on Naming Rights for New Iraq


BAGHDAD, Iraq (DPI) - As the war with Iraq progresses and Saddam Hussein's ouster becomes a near certainty, the U.S. government will change its focus to installing new leadership in Iraq that will bring long-overdue freedom to its people. But this lofty goal comes with a sizeable price tag.

To offset some of the costs, the Bush administration has taken a lesson from professional sports team owners who need to fund new stadiums and will grant the highest corporate bidder the right to rename Iraq.

Some possibilities include staying with the current theme, such as Pontiaq and Radio Shaq, while other companies prefer a more subtle approach, such as McBabylon, Oil of Olay, Frito-Laysia and The Wonderful Desert of Disney. In keeping with the practice common in many places of calling countries by their abbreviations -- "USA" and "UK," for example -- IBM proposed Immense Batch of Muslims and UPS suggested United Pieces of Sand.

Chevrolet, meanwhile, wants to select a new national anthem, "Like Iraq," sung to the tune of Bob Seger's "Like A Rock," the theme of the advertising campaign for its pickup trucks. Mary Kay Cosmetics has envisioned the national flag as a solid block of pink, and Geico Insurance, whose mascot is a talking gecko, is in a bidding war with R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Camel cigarettes, to choose the national animal.

Even the administration has taken favorites. The president is backing the Anheuser-Busch Companies, whose products include Busch beer. Pentagon officials however, concerned that the new government of Iraq may one day fall back into enemy hands, is pushing to name the country after the Target retail chain.

(Reported by Buddy Fisher)



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