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.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Miss itty bitty Kitty rules the rooms!
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