Monday, March 4, 2013

Miss itty bitty Kitty rules the rooms!

I don't get Hello Kitty. I do get Hello Kitty. I get the merchandising, the appeal to pre-adolescent females and the cutesy factor that seems to adorn all young Asian girls and indeed little girls all over the shopping world. I get that it's a character of fiction - I don't get the look (Kitty is portrayed as a female white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow), I don't get why Kitty doesn't have a mouth.

Researching the erstwhile feline, I found out she was created by Yuko Shimizu in 1974, and first appeared on a vinyl coin purse, introduced to the Japanese public and then Kitty conquered the US in 1976.
The character Hello Kitty is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture. She is a Sanrio character (there are many Kitty family members - now I'm creeping myself out as I'd like to meet them), and Sanrio has groomed Hello Kitty into a global; marketing phenomenon worth $5 billion a year.  
(In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, founder of Sanrio, sold rubber sandals with flowers painted on them. He noted profits soared with the addition of cute designs on sandals and hired cartoonists to design cuties for his merchandise. )
Anyway chubby kitty cat is all over the world now - and every little girl knows her. And surprisingly (not) many adults have embraced her too . . . I don't get it. But I'm starting to . . .
The target market for Hello Kitty broadened to include teens and grown-ups as a retro brand - for those who could not get her when they were young. In 1999, 12,000 different products had Kitty appearing on them worldwide.  And now it gets silly - in 2009, the Bank of America began offering Hello Kitty-themed cheque accounts, where the account holder can get cheques and a Visa debit card with Kitty's mouthless face on it = MasterCard debit cards have featured Kitty as a design since 2004.
(Thanks to Wikipedia for some of this info - hope it's correct.)
And now to the Grand Hai-Lai hotel in Kaohsiung, Taiwan where I stayed last week. A wonderful hotel with elegant rooms and friendly staff AND a Hello Kitty Suite. It features a living room, dining room and a master bedroom, and it offers 50sq.m of space.

In the delightfully pink suite, decorated with sweet Hello Kitty miniature vases and paintings, residents will find a Hello Kitty mini-studio and a complete Hello Kitty tea set. The large bathroom has a jumbo sanded Kitty mirror - take your time and enjoy a Kitty bubble bath!
Grand Hai-Lai and Sanrio Corporation of Japan present the "Hai-Lai Kitty House" situated in the hotel lobby, where Hello Kitty limited editions and gifts are exclusively sold. Enjoy shopping in pink-decorated romance! All Hello Kitty amenities provided in the rooms are available in store.
I purchased a Hello Kitty pair of slippers - at the Hello Kitty store in the hotel, and one of my travelling companions, writer Christine Retschlag tried out the Hello Kitty bicycle. There's a Hello Kitty car for bride and groom who come to the hotel to have a Hello Kitty wedding.
The Hello Kitty breakfast features a Kitty face stamped in the toast and a Kitty moulded sweet. There's even a Hello Kitty face drizzled in tomato sauce on the fried egg.
It was a Hello Kitty overload looking at the HK scene but one can't be cynical or churlish while the young woman showing us with giggles and glee all the hotel has to show of Kitty - they softened all the kitsch blows and were delighted with my slipper purchase - I would go so far to say they were impressed with me - and I got a discount.



  1. Your writings, articles, blogs I mean over all contents is must read matter.
    Hello Kitty

  2. I still have my Hello Kitty slippers - will put them on tonight when I have a cup of tea and eat my Hello Kitty chocolates