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Marketing / Toys; Games

Hello Kitty Bombshell: Kitty Is Not a Cat

3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Time to start questioning all your longest-held beliefs: Hello Kitty is actually not a cat.

On Wednesday, the LA Times reported that the famous Kitty is no cat. The revelation came out of a story on anthropologist Christine Yano who has spent years studying Hello Kitty and is currently creating an exhibition for the Japanese American National Museum on the icon.

Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, claims Hello Kitty is a little girl named Kitty White. She lives in the suburbs of London with her parents and twin sister, Mimmy.

Related: The Hidden Opportunity: Toys That Bridge the Gender Gap

The outcry was immediate. Dozens of media organizations published their own pieces on the revelation. Social media exploded with flabbergasted Hello Kitty fans. Even celebrities got in on the drama, with Katy Perry confirming her pet is indeed a cat and Josh Groban calling for an end to "this nonsense."

If anyone had thought to investigate earlier instead of taking the name "Hello Kitty" and the cultural icon's whiskers at face value, someone would have noticed a few the non-feline warming signs. Sanrio's official fan site refers to Kitty as a little girl, who further owns a pet cat of her own named Charmmy Kitty. Of course, the website also says that Hello Kitty weighs about three apples and is five apples tall, hardly appropriate measurements for a human child.

Related: Hasbro to Let Fans Design 3-D Printed My Little Pony Art

Ignoring the headache-inducing puzzle of whether Kitty White is an animal or human, one thing is clear: it's causing a storm of publicity. Hello Kitty was No. 5 in Google's hot searches Thursday morning, with over 50,000 searches. "HelloKittyIsNotACat" has been trending on Twitter. Countless media organizations published stories on Hello Kitty -- and therefore Sanrio. Clarifying Hello Kitty's DNA was the best free publicity the Japanese toymaker could ask for.

However, as the outraged responses on social media show, most Hello Kitty lovers didn't take kindly to the news. Did Sanrio just get the best free advertising campaign ever or reveal a fact that could cause long-term damage to their brand?

Related: Introducing Entrepreneur Barbie


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