Hello Kitty is the best example of Japanese companies’ ability to turn cuteness into megabucks.
Born in 1976, the white cat with a red bow is one of many popular characters created by Sanrio. These simple cartoon animals adorn products from stationary to microwaves to S&M equipment in love hotels.
Of all these critters, the Kitty is the undisputed queen. Her popularity, especially with young children, earned her a TV series, which ran from 1993 to 1994. In 1990, a Sanrio themepark, Puroland, was built near Tokyo.
Famous fans include Lisa Loeb, who dedicated a whole album (‘Hello Lisa’) to the phenomenon.