First Hello Kitty wine on the marketJune 4, 2009
Hello Kitty, the kitsch cartoon cat from Japan, is being used to market Italian wine.
Winemaker Tenimenti Castelrotto in Lombardy has joined forces with Italian luxury goods company Camomilla to market four wines featuring the melon-headed feline in its packaging.
Camomilla and Tenimenti Castelrotto believe the brand is both sophisticated and grown- up enough to sell wine.
'Hello Kitty is not just for children. She is a recognised cult fashion icon among teenagers and adults around the world,' said winemaker Patrizia Torti, whose family owns Castelrotto.
'She has been trendy for years. You see her on everything from bags and clothing to Porsches and Smart cars. W'e're very proud for our wine to be associated with her.'
The range – all made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Oltrepo Pavese area – includes a red wine called Devil, a white named Angel, and two spumantes: a Brut Rosé and a demi-sec dubbed Sweet Pink.
All bottles carry the Hello Kitty logo on labels or neck pendants – as well as the Italian flag.
'Hello Kitty is one of the most recognised characters in the world and continues to be very popular in Italy,' said Nicolas Belloni, Camomilla's export manager.
'It's natural that she should be linked to quality wine, a flagship Italian product.'
Currently distributed in Singapore, the US and Russia, Hello Kitty wine does not yet have a UK importer but Belloni is confident the brand will not fall foul of laws that govern alcohol packaging that might appeal to children.
'We already sell it in the US,' said Belloni, 'where the Food and Drug Administration has very strict regulations. I don't think we will face too much trouble in the UK.'
Camomilla is not the only company to emblazon a beverage with Hello Kitty. In a separate project, Donelli Vini is marketing Hello Kitty sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice in a Champagne-style bottle.
Tenimenti Castelrotto, founded in 1910, has 30ha of Pinot Noir, Barbera and Croatina.
Created in 1974 by Ikuko Shimizu for Japan's Sanrio Company, Hello Kitty accounts for well over £650m in global sales, and adorns everything from the original coin purse, to an entire theme park, Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo.