When I first saw pictures of Eva Air’s Hello Kitty jets, I wondered who came up with the brilliant marketing idea.
After all, this is Hello Kitty we’re talking about – the famous cat that has fans young and old the world over.
And boy was I surprised when told at a recent Eva Air event in Taipei that the carrier’s 42-year-old president K.W. Chang is actually the brain behind its Hello Kitty jets.
Last year, the Taiwanese carrier painted three of its new Airbus A330-300s with Hello Kitty themes and they proved to be a huge hit. The aircraft has since been flying from Taipei to Tokyo, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Guam.
In fact, they are so popular that the carrier last week added another two such jets to service flights to Tokyo and Shanghai.
So when we reporters had a chance to sit down for coffee with Chang, we couldn’t resist digging deeper into this topic.
“This industry is so old, there’s nothing very different you can do. In and out you just hear complaints about delays,” jokes the very cheerful president.
He adds that most carriers pay big bucks to advertise their services, but that does little for its passengers.
“An airplane’s image is very hard. Travel is not easy, not comfortable. So I want to make people feel like they are sitting on a sofa at home, we must make it enjoyable for them,” says Chang.
“When we put the Kitty on the
jets, passengers feel its very fun, very warm, very enjoyable. We must make
travel like that.”
And the famous kitty is not merely painted on the aircraft’s exterior.
Step onto an Eva Air Hello Kitty jet and you’ll be treated to the full experience. From headrest covers and seat pillows to the soap and hand lotion bottles in the lavatories, you find the famous cat printed on them on. Oh, and if that’s not enough, you get Hello Kitty-shaped carrots and pasta in your meals too.
And of course passengers find it hard to resist bringing these in-flight items with them when its time to disembark, so the crew have to bring double the supply to restock the plane on every flight.
“If not, on the return leg, the Hello Kitty stuff will all be gone and it won’t be a Hello Kitty flight anymore,” quipped an airline staff.
I personally haven’t been on one of these flights and do not feel especially for the world-famous cat but hey, anything to make a long boring flight a tad bit more interesting right?