Hello Kitty Wine: Bad Message for Tots?

Hi Time Wine; $29.98
Hello Kitty may be the queen of the playground, but some parents have their claws out over the Japanese-born cutie's newest product tie-in.

Hello Kitty wine isn't being marketed to kids.

But boy does it look good. Er, I mean . . . bad for kids. Yes, very, very bad.


The LA Times chatted with the folks from Innovation Spirits this week, the group that's emblazoned their black and pink bottles with a giant Hello Kitty on the label and slung a bow-wearing kitten charm around the neck.

Asking the company's CEO point blank if he worried underage girls would be drawn to the bottle, Innovation's Drew Hibbert had this to say:

"There will always be a concern when it comes to marketing a brand identity that has appeal to both adults and children. As a company, we follow all industry standards and guidelines for age verifications and ensure that our distribution and retail partners do the same. My take on it is this: with over 60,000 Hello Kitty sku's in the marketplace and at 35 years old now, she is definitely ready for more adult skewed products. I don't think that the $15,000 dollar Hello Kitty handbags are aimed at children either."

Point taken. Sometimes it's simply up to us parents to just say NO to our kids. Whether it's the wine, the handbag, or the Big Mac.

But if a $15,000 handbag falls into the hands of a child, it isn't going to hurt her. And for every 35-year-old who is clamoring for Hello Kitty, there are hundreds of girls my toddler's age begging for a charm strikingly like the one on Innovation's bottles.

As we've seen with Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel, putting a cartoon face on something that's inherently bad for kids is tantamount to screaming "free ice cream" in the center of the playground. Ever flipped through channels and had your kid beg you to stop at Family Guy simply because it's a cartoon?

Choosing Hello Kitty is smart marketing, but pooh-poohing the appeal a traditionally children's character will continue to have to children is disingenuous at best. There will "always be a concern" because there IS a concern. The first thing my daughter said when she spotted the bottle over my shoulder on my computer screen was "it's so cute!"

But that doesn't excuse us -- the parents -- from our jobs.

Does the relationship between Hello Kitty and a vineyard bother you?

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