Guess Hello Kitty has found its way to bars, and away from children’s reach.
This year, Hello Kitty maker Sanrio introduces a rather radical marketing stunt that’s unprecedented in the brand’s history. The Hello Kitty beer now makes it debut in Asia.
Yes, it’s real beer, and comes in fruity flavors of banana, lemon-lime, passion fruit, and peach. Of course, each can comes in a fancy, colorful packaging of the popular cartoon character. But worry not — or rather quite a frustration for hardcore drinkers — as each can contains only 2.3 to 2.8 percent alcohol, just half the content of Budweiser and most American beers.
Sanrio initially rolled out the new product in Taiwan, and later, China, a country now zealously embracing flavored beers, said a Sanrio marketing spokesperson in an email to TODAY.com.
One blogger in Beijing, Eric Lou, wrote in a review that the new brew is so “ridiculously smooth and tasty” that no one would easily know it’s beer, even when the label on the can clearly reads so.
Similar responses rippled across the social network Untappd, which hails anything beer-related. A reviewer described the passion fruit-flavored beer as having the tinge of Fanta, but with “a beer aftertaste.”
But the Hello Kitty’s drastic transformation may not come without controversy, as Camel, an American cigarette company, learned the hard way. About three decades ago, Joe Camel, the company’s ruggedly handsome cartoon mascot, soared in popularity, but drew enough criticism from angered parents to push Congress to end the cartoon’s marketing stint in 1997.
Now the same fate might fall on Hello Kitty beer. But Hello Kitty wine has already been on the American market since 2010, only that the product comes packaged with a black and white icon. Innovation Spirits CEO Drew Hibbert told LA Weekly that Hello Kitty is now a brand not only for children, but also for adults. Innovation Spirits still markets the wine today.
In Asia, Sanrio claims no current plans of selling the beer in the U.S., and flavored drinks with alcohol continue to be popular across the region. So why not package Hello Kitty to join the bandwagon?
After all, 40 years of fame is reason enough for the cute kitten to “grow up” too.