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Hello Kitty gets a friend

American Blue's Clues dog arrives in Japan to strike up a friendship with Hello Kitty.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2006 20:05 IST

America's favourite puzzle-solving dog Blue is getting together with Hello Kitty, Japan's most famous cat, in a partnership announced here Wednesday.

Toys, clothes and stationery decorated with the floppy-eared blue canine and the bubble-headed mouthless white kitten will arrive in stores here in spring 2007, under a licensing deal between Sanrio Co. of Japan and U.S. licensing business Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products, the companies said in a statement. Under the deal, NVCP has granted Sanrio the master license for the character that won fame as the star of "Blue's Clues," a U.S. educational animation series.

NVCP President Leigh Anne Brodsky said Wednesday's deal was the first time her company has joined one of its icons with a counterpart from another company.

"It's a very exciting idea to have this creative collaboration, kind of East meets West, dog meets cat," she said in a telephone interview during a trip to Tokyo to announce the partnership. Creators from both sides will work together on products targeting young Japanese women, which may be later exported to the rest of Asia, and perhaps to Europe and the U.S., she said. Although tying together mascot characters isn't without its risks, the artistic styles of Blue's Clues and Hello Kitty blend well because Blue's creator was influenced by Hello Kitty, Brodsky said.

"Hello Kitty was a tremendous inspiration in the creation of Blue's Clues and has been one of my favourite characters since childhood," said Blue co-creator Traci Paige Johnson. "Blue's Clues" has ranked continuously among the top five preschool commercial TV series in the U.S. over the last decade. It has generated US$3.6 billion in retail sales since 1998, and sold more than 35 million books.

Hello Kitty, invented by Sanrio in 1974, adorns everything from diamond-studded jewellery, Fender guitars and digital cameras to lunchboxes, T-shirts and stationery.

Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Mariah Carey have been spotted with Hello Kitty gear.

Earlier this year, NVCP began selling in Japan products with SpongeBob SquarePants, a yellow square-shaped cartoon character that is popular in the U.S. and gaining attention in Japan as well. NVCP and Sanrio are hoping to have similar success with the new Blue-Kitty tie-up.

"We are well poised to establish Blue as one of the most beloved characters here in Japan," said Akito Sasaki, director and general manager at Sanrio.

First Published: Oct 21, 2006 20:30 IST