Originating in Japan, “Hello Kitty” is Sanrio’s most famous international character. Kitty was first seen printed on a Sanrio plastic coin purse that went on sale in 1974. Since then, she has been appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has also been co-opted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as a Goodwill Tourism Ambassador for China and HongKong.
Kitty’s popularity, however, stagnated at the end of the 1970s. Sanrio decided to revitalise the character by changing Kitty’s designer. It appointed Yuko Yamaguchi as Kitty’s third-generation designer.
Ms. Yamaguchi is from Kochi City, and belonged to the art club in high school. She achieved notoriety after winning a special commendation at the Prefectural Art Exhibition – an accolade which is thought very difficult for high school students to win. After graduating from Musashino Art University, she joined Sanrio and was appointed as Kitty’s designer in 1980, after 2 years at the company.
The reason for Kitty’s ongoing popularity can be traced to the autograph-signing sessions which Ms. Yamaguchi attends throughout the nation about 40 times each year. Yamaguchi is ingenious, changing Kitty’s design to suit each season and varying age groups. This has helped Kitty maintain her top market share.
Taken from vol.30 PDF