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Hello Kitty Marks 40 Years With First Fan Convention

With 25,000 enthusiasts in attendance, Sanrio's celebration for its iconic character brought retailers like Target and Sephora to Los Angeles to offer exclusive merchandise and on-site activities.

By Rose Curiel November 6, 2014, 7:00 AM EST

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Sanrio

The world’s first-ever Hello Kitty convention took to Little Tokyo’s Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, where organizers branded everything from food trucks to ATMs to the toilet paper found in museum bathrooms with the iconic character for her 40th anniversary celebration. At $30 per ticket for adults and $20 for children, the inaugural convention sold out, attracting 25,000 Hello Kitty enthusiasts.

And participating brands made sure to leverage fans’ obsession with all things Hello Kitty with interactive installations that often featured limited-edition—and occasionally free—merchandise during the four-day convention from October 30 to November 2.

Target, which presented the convention alongside Hello Kitty parent, Sanrio, appealed to attendees while also establishing its brand presence with the ÔÇťAdventures of Hello Kitty and Bullseye” activation, which prominently merged its Bull Terrier mascot Bullseye with the Sanrio character in a carnival-like setting. Guests received a R.F.I.D. card that they could then swipe at different gaming stations to accumulate points redeemable for Hello Kitty-theme prizes at an on-site kiosk. Guests could also pose with Hello Kitty and Bullseye in three differently themed photo booths, while at the nearby Hello Kitty Friendship Pop-Up shop, they could purchase a plush Bullseye dressed as Hello Kitty that was exclusive to the convention—a plus at an event where collectibles such as vintage merchandise were part of the draw.

Similarly, retailer Sephora stocked its pop-up shop with a signature Hello Kitty 40th anniversary cosmetics collection and offered guests complimentary makeovers inspired by the character, including ruby lip and eye looks. On the first day of the convention, the brand offered a signing opportunity with Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi, and on November 1—Hello Kitty’s official anniversary—it gifted a Hello Kitty item with purchase.

But perhaps the most popular freebie was a permanent tattoo guest could receive at the “HK Ink” shop, where notable tattoo artists like Mario Desa offered diehard fans 18 and older Hello Kitty tattoos. Operating on a first-come, first-serve basis, the slots filled up shortly after doors opened each day of the convention.

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