(CNN) — Just when you thought the multibillion-dollar marketing phenomenon that is Hello Kitty might have colonized every corner of the merchandizing universe in Asia and possibly reached its natural limits, we learn that planes branded with the cartoon cat are to fly to the West.
The Taiwanese airline EVA Air, which already flies five Kitty-themed planes around Asia, is adding thrice-weekly flights from Taipei to Los Angeles on September 18. A European schedule is also reportedly on the cards.
The Hello Kitty planes flying to Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and Guam are A330s but for its States-side adventure the feline cat will be emblazoned on a new B777 aircraft, the world’s largest twinjet plane.
Though the B777’s livery is still being painted and its cabin interior under construction, the branding would be consistent with the existing Kitty-themed craft, Eva Air told Business Traveller.
To put it another way, the B777 will be drenched inside and out with Kitty stuff.
On the current planes, a huge version of the garish cartoon feline perches on the fuselage in the company of other imaginary animal friends.
Cuteness starts at the gate
But it doesn’t stop there. On the inside, more than 100 inflight items bear the Hello Kitty motif, including headrest covers, tissues, utensils, snacks and soap dispensers.
And when you’re not blowing your nose on Hello Kitty or tearing her in two to get at some peanuts, flight attendants wearing Hello Kitty aprons will sell you limited edition duty-free goods branded with the cutesy animal.
Passengers’ immersion into Kitty world begins before they get on the plane.
Boarding passes and baggage stickers are cat-stampedand you board the aircraft through a special Kitty-embellished gate.
In short, you might be able to miss a Hello Kitty plane just like any other, but you will never miss the fact that you are on one.
The Japanese cartoon company Sanrio launched Hello Kitty, depicted as a white female cat with a red bow in its hair, on the world in 1974.
Three and a half decades later, she was earning worldwide revenue of $5 billion a year.
Sanrio and EVA Air collaborated on their first generation of Kitty-themed aircraft in 2005.
With their latest flights, they are providing Kitty with a new aviation market to conquer.
By Simon Busch
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