In a bizarre move, Thai officials have announced that “bad cops” in Thailand will have to endure certain humiliation by wearing an armband with Hello Kitty on it. Apparently, misdemeanors like littering, parking in an unauthorized location, and tardiness will earn cops a Hello Kitty-adorned armband, which they must wear the entire day.
Cops won’t be forced to endure this humiliation in public, but officials feel the message will be driven home because wearing a cute icon for girls “is not something macho police officers want covering their biceps,” said one official.
Forget the sheer loonacy of this type of condemning bad behavior for a minute. What I want to know is what Hello Kitty company Sanrio Corp. has to say about this. If your product, which is meant to be hip and cool and even “cute,” is used for humiliation and to discipline bad behavior, what does that do to your brand?
In this case, does it reinforce Hello Kitty’s cuteness? Or does it add an air of rebelliousness to the brand? As it stands, Fender guitars and other pop culture products have used Hello Kitty as an icon for girl power in a way that often flies in the face of its “cute” undertone.
With an apparent laissez faire approach to the brand, Sanrio seems to be letting pop culture dictate Hello Kitty’s image, but I wonder if Thai police wearing the logo for punishment might be taking the new rebellious image a bit too far.