Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Hello Kitty is the cat's meow

By Kelly Carter
USA Today

From a teenage girl going to the prom or Tyra Banks going to the MTV Awards, Hello Kitty's appeal knows no boundaries.
LOS ANGELES — Mariah Carey, Lisa Loeb, Sarah Jessica Parker and Tyra Banks may be grown-up celebrities, but they're not too old to purr over Hello Kitty.

Popular with little girls since the 1970s, Hello Kitty products are suddenly a hit in Hollywood.

"It's a very reminiscent 'Oh' feeling when I see or buy Hello Kitty things," says Loeb, 34, a fan since 1976. "It reminds me of my childhood."

Carey is known to click around in her high heels, carrying her $59 Hello Kitty boombox. On a recent "MTV Cribs" episode, the songbird showed off the boombox, along with her Hello Kitty hair dryer ($29).

A $15 Hello Kitty sequin bag is popular with Banks, Mandy Moore and members of Destiny's Child. Christina Aguilera, who wore Hello Kitty jewelry on the cover of "Teen People", was recently spotted at Hello Kitty's Beverly Center store here, snapping up everything from luggage to wastebaskets. On "The Tonight Show", she professed her love of Hello Kitty gum to Jay Leno.

Include Gwen Stefani (cellphone case), Jessica Alba (stationery), Parker (T-shirts), Selma Blair (hat, scarf and mittens set), Drew Barrymore (watches and stationery) and Brandy (luggage) among Hello Kitty fans.

Why is the brand — with its cute little white-cat-with-a-bow mascot — such a hit with celebs? Could it be the kitschy Kitty factor?

"Most of us work very hard and we're very, very busy, so anything that can add a spark of excitement and creativity and fun to mundane things in life is important to us," says Loeb, whose new album is called "Cake & Pie". "You need the small things in life. When you're sitting on a plane one-third of the time, you want to look at a Hello Kitty pad or paper or a pen. You don't want to look at something boring."

Loeb can't even count how many Hello Kitty items she possesses. For starters, there's her rice cooker, purses, T-shirts, pens, paper, cellphone holders, boom box, waffle maker, watch, leopard-skin leg warmers and pajamas. "Basically, everything from erasers to underwear," she says. Her guitar player recently bought her Hello Kitty microphone covers that look like miniature shower caps.

"I have a Hello Kitty coffee maker and I get to see Hello Kitty's face with little angel wings on it when I'm making coffee in the morning," says Loeb.

Bill Hensley, who is Western Hemisphere marketing director for Tokyo-based Sanrio Inc., of which Hello Kitty is JUa subsidiary, likes to think that celebrities are attracted to his brand for the same reason that non-celebrities are.

"Kitty appeals because she's really cute and we create functional stuff with a fun design," he says. "We listen to what's going on in the customer's lifestyle and make things with Hello Kitty. So whether it's a teenage girl going to the prom or Tyra Banks going to the MTV Awards, she can carry that fun Hello Kitty sequin purse."