Forty three years ago, an anthropomorphic, mouthless creation made her debut on a vinyl coin purse with a star-etched snap closure. Today, that creature - Hello Kitty - is a brand worth an estimated $7 billion.
Kitty's image has been stamped (officially and unofficially) on everything from airlines to breast pumps, motor oil to microwaves, wedding dresses to Avril Lavigne videos. There's even a Hello Kitty hospital in Taiwan, and she has her own TV show and YouTube channel.
There are approximately 50,000 Hello Kitty product lines available in over 130 countries. Hello Kitty's global fame has been achieved with little investment in traditional advertising. Hello Kitty's story is one that was powered by brand tie-ups and licensing deals, which have helped the character transcended its beginnings as a niche stationery design to become a globally recognised symbol.
Parent company, in the meantime, is looking to find newer ways to ensure that its creation keeps pace with pop culture.