Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Hello Kitty Gets Her Kicks from New Wine

Miss Hello Kitty has been making the media rounds to promote her new, controversial Hello Kitty Wine collection. Like a true pop icon of the 21st century, she is taking in any publicity as good publicity. She has appeared in various articles from sources as high as ABC.com and has even found herself in the spotlight during a segment on the popular Comedy Central TV show, The Colbert Report.  With no attempts to keep her new venture quiet, the question that every prevention professional should be asking is, "Why is UNICEF's Special Friend of Children (The Japan Times Online, 2004) promoting, marketing, and branding alcohol as if it were a necklace to be worn at the elementary square dance recital?" In fact, some of the wine bottles are even distributed with a bracelet holding a Hello Kitty Charm.

Though this is not the first time for a cartoon character to promote Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATODs), it may be the first time for an already established and beloved character to actually brand their own.  In the summer of 2007, Disney made one such attempt by creating a wine called "Ratatouille," with the bottle donning a picture of the star from their most recent feature film (McCoy, 2007). With the help of California wine makers and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the wine's production was put to an abrupt stop, and Disney became but another failed forerunner in helping children overcome any aversion they may have left to alcohol (Arnold, 2007).

Underage drinking concerns are certainly not limited to California. In Indiana, 80% of high school seniors report having had at least one drink, and within a given month, 36% of seniors report to binge drinking (Eaton, 2010).  According to the 19th Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents, conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington, the average age of first use for alcohol in the state is 13 years (Gassman, 2009). Research has demonstrated that child-friendly advertisement of alcohol does lead to eventual alcohol underage use (Austin, 2006). This fact, however, has not stopped cartoon characters from any indirect association with substances illegal for minors. Miss Hello Kitty herself began selling her very own wine and shot glasses as early as 2001 (Kaboodle Inc., 2010).

Hello Kitty Wine can currently be bought online. It may also be found on the shelves of various California retailers who claim to abide by The Wine Institute's Advertising Code which states that entertainment celebrities may only be used for advertisement if "substantiated by research demonstrating that the figure does not appeal to underage consumers (The Wine Institute, 2005)." Though this very code of conduct was the agent in stopping Ratatouille Wine production, it seems to have no effect in distribution, for Hello Kitty Wines are now being described as "flying off distributors' showcases as fast as a cat chasing a bird up a tree (Brenoff, 2010)."

 (The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the view of the IPRC or Indiana University.)

Reference

Arnold, E. (2007, July 31). Costco pulls ratatouille wine. The Wine Spector, Retrieved from http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/Costco-Pulls-Ratatouille-Wine_3682

Austin, E. (2006). Why advertisers and researchers should focus on media literacy to respond to the effects of alcohol advertising on youth. International Journal of Advertising, 25(4), 541-544. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database

Brenoff, A. (2010, March 17). Hello kitty: no whine about the wine. The Luxist, Retrieved from http://www.luxist.com/2010/03/17/hello-kitty-no-whine-about-the-wine/

Eaton, D.K., Kann, L, Kinchen, S, & Shanklin, Shari., et al. (2010). Youth risk behavior surveillance - United States 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 59(SS-5).

Gassman, R., Jun, M. K., Samuel, S., Martin, E.V., Agley, J.D., et al. (2009). Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use by Indiana children and adolescents: The Indiana Prevention Resource Center 2009 prevalence statistics main findings. Bloomington, IN: Institute for Drug Abuse Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/publications/survey/indianaSurvey_2009_high.pdf

Kaboodle Inc., Initials. (Producer). (2010). Retrieved from http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/sanrio-jp-hello-kitty-flower-wine-glass-set

McCoy, E. (2007, July 26). Remy the animated rat gets his own chard in movie tie-in twist . Bloomberg, Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&;sid=aDGbvG9QLraY&refer=home

The Japan Times Online,.  (2004, June 10). Hello kitty marks 30th birthday. The Japan Times Online, Retrieved from http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20040610b6.html

The Wine Institute, . (2005, September). Code of advertising standards. Retrieved from http://www.wineinstitute.org/initiatives/issuesandpolicy/adcode

 

By Sarah Michelle Conley, 7/1/2010