Japan's iconic Hello Kitty brand, not content with confining its logo to hand bags, lunch boxes and jet planes, has staked out a new piece of commercial real estate: A maternity hospital in central Taiwan.
Hello Kitty welcomes moms, babies at Taiwan hospital
Hau Sheng Hospital, located 95 miles south of Taipei, is the latest destination for the cute feline with the penchant for pink. Her image adorns everything from the hospital's walls to newborns' blankets, reflecting its owner's belief that mothers and newborns will be soothed by the well-known Hello Kitty ambiance.
Tsai Tsung-ji approached Sanrio Co., the maker of Hello Kitty, about the embellishment of his hospital at the suggestion of his mother, wife and daughter, all of whom are huge fans.
"When new moms feel anxious and lost about how to deal with their new babies, Hello Kitty can make them more relaxed and reduce their sense of discomfort while giving birth," Tsai said.
He declined to reveal how much he was paying Sanrio for the Hello Kitty rights except to say that it was a "reasonable" figure.
Introduced in 1974, Hello Kitty has become one of the most powerful brands in the world, adorning some 50,000 products in 60 countries. In Taiwan it is found on dozens of consumer goods ranging from purses to tote bags, and has even been used by local air carrier Eva Airways to promote jet travel to Japan.
Looking on proudly as his perky newborn son was wheeled into the baby ward, first-time father Chen Wen-sheng, 24, said coming to the hospital had been the right choice for his entire family.
"Both my wife and I like Hello Kitty, and we chose this hospital after seeing it on TV," he said. "The place is quite pretty, and warm and fuzzy like Hello Kitty should be."
The hospital boasts an elaborate, gilded entrance with mock Ionic columns and white, pink and violet tile walls.
A giant Hello Kitty figure dressed in a pink doctor uniform greets visitors in the main lobby, while colorful murals of the feline and her "Dear Daniel" boyfriend are mounted in the recovery rooms for moms, in the central baby room, and even on elevator doors. Newborns are wrapped in Hello Kitty blanketspink for the girls, sky blue for the boys.
Nurse Rita Laidressed in a pink uniform and an apron with an imprint of the Hello Kitty imagesaid the cat character warms people's heart and draws moms and medical staff closer together.
"Pink is about warm and fuzzy feelings and new lives," she said. "Hello Kitty allows new moms to feel more relaxed, lower their defenses and make it easier for us to treat them."
Tsai said about 2,000 babies have been born under Hello Kitty's watchful eyes since the image was first introduced in the hospital in late 2006.
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