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Hello Kitty, from the character to brand licensing

Del: 19/01/2007


It is enough to go around in big cities to observe a phenomenon that is becoming more and more evident: mothers dressed like young girls just like their daughters and children under 10 years old with video phones more avant-garde than their fathers’. Robert Bly, American narrator and essayist, has probed this custom phenomenon in “The Sibling Society. When adults remain children and children have no desire to become adults”. In each field of existence, as Bly points out, you can notice the levelling out work of society. This horizontal society, has no top or bottom, with no before or after; it no longer has fathers and sons, grandparents and grandchildren but in it they are all brothers and sisters. They are all necessarily young and escaping from responsibilities; above all the responsibility to grow up.
The precocious ending of childhood is recovered by procrastinating adulthood as much as possible, which is manifested in “over thirty-year old” individuals that play with Playstation and Legos, and are keen on manga and buy Hello Kitty gadgets.

Hello Kitty is a typical example of a product conceived for the eternal adolescents.
Created in Japan in 1974 by Sanrio, as a character for the pre-adolescent young girls, Hello Kitty has then become a brand that today is addressed to several targets.
With its 32 years it is rightly the most loved and famous oriental cat in the world. Especially in the Orient, the market where it was born and has rapidly diffused, the girls are born and live with Hello Kitty, to the point that they try to imitate her: in a Harajuku store cat fur is sold so as to apply it close to the nostrils in order to reproduce whiskers, and at the Fashion Health clinic in Roppongi operations are performed to remove lips applying a thin layer of pig skin that makes the surface homogenous, because notoriously, the famous kitty, does not have a mouth because she speaks with her heart.
While for children there is a Hello Kitty theme park, for youngsters and adults there are the theme rooms in the love hotels (motels), not to mention the bondage rooms, where love encounters are all but childish.

Hello Kitty has become the richest kitten on the planet because wherever her pretty face is applied sells very much and attracts purchasers that go from young girls, to teenagers, to moms.
Hello Kitty is a brand with a exceptional fame, even if in Italy it does not carry out classical “advertising”. Sanrio does not need to purchase advertising space, because he restates the Hello Kitty registered brand licensing it to similar brands that can give it popularity and added value.
Tarina Tarantino (, jewellery designer, was inspired by it for her unique and colorful bijoux, creating the Pink Head line: the classic pretty face of the kitty was modified for the occasion adding a fuchsia head of hair (like the designer’s). Her jewellery has had plenty success even among Hollywood stars.
Neiman Marcus ( presents jewels of gold and diamonds and cachemire sweaters for crystal small sized cats and dogs, always having the Hello Kitty effigy.
The target that approaches this kind of childlike jewellery is however a target not for a child’s pocket, but for the adult that wants to show off and that can afford a necklace with Swarovski crystals by Tarina Tarantino at $188.00, and, what is more, a ring with 1.0 carot pavé diamonds by Neiman Marcus at the value of $4,250.00.

<!--NEWPAGE--> Hello Kitty is the epitome of the kawaii, Japanese adjective that groups all that is not only cute, but also small, simple, defenceless, innocent, naive, of pastel and delicate colors, of childlike appearance, of small and essential features and proportions with big and tender eyes. A trend that notoriously young girls are fond of, that take it with them to adolescence and beyond. It is for this phenomenon of imprinting that Sanrio has well-thought of generating not only cute objects for children, like the typical stuffed animals and the stationery, but also products, with the childlike appearance, but useful and measured for an adult target, like dishware, household appliances and technological objects.

Licensing the brand, gives birth to the pink Ipod by Hello Kitty, the mobile BenQ Siemens AL-26 Hello Kitty, the Wacom FAVO Graphics Tablet Hello Kitty Edition,, the Hello Kitty telephone for Skype, the KoreMoto Sophia scooter by Aving.
Mitsubishi has created a prototype re-baptized Princess Kitty: it is baby pink and the image of the kitty stands out everywhere, 660cc turbo, 64 horse-power and automatic transmission. It was drawn out in a big Japanese shopping mall and the lucky winner was able to buy it for about 14.000 €, of which the amount of 1.500 € was donated to UNICEF.
But who is not lucky enough or cannot afford an original car, can personalise cars with stickers, and some go as far as modifying the exhaust pipe giving it a kitty shape, because where the brand does not reach directly that is where the consumer invents new things, and the consumer generates media.

Sanrio has tried to replicate the fortune by surrounding her with little friends, that, however, have never been able to contend with her first place in the hearts of fans. Hello Kitty is unique and the old little girls will continue to make her known to the new generations, because she never gets old.

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