From ‘McDonald’s urges public to stop profiteering from Hello Kitty Plush Toys’, 27 June 2013, article by Rachel Tan, ST
The McDonald’s Hello Kitty plush toy craze has translated into a opportunities for online sellers to capitalise on the fad. Several advertisements selling the toy were seen just hours after they went on sale early Thursday morning. In one posting on eBay there were 125 bids for the “Singing Bone” model.
News of the online transactions have reached McDonald’s headquarters in Singapore – and the management is not happy about it. “We do not support people buying the Kitties for resale, and we have been regularly removing posts offering such services from our page. We take the conduct of our staff very seriously and if any of them are found to have misappropriated the Kitties for personal gain, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action,” the fast-food chain posted on their official Facebook page.
The toy has also resulted in a number of confrontations among consumers. According to Stomp, at McDonald’s Bukit Batok Central outlet, a policeman was asked to clear a dispute over people jumping queues.
The winning bid for a Blackface Kitty is a whopping $126,000 (turned out to be fake), and this being a country where people own million dollar HDB flats and $5 million dollar racecars, I’m not surprised that some fans are willing to fork out a ridiculous sum of money for a plush doll, one that’s not even studded with diamonds to begin with (Just for comparison, the famed Jewel Doll costs US$167,000). I suspect the reason why the Singing Bone is getting everyone in a tizzy is not that it’s limited edition (they all are), but because you can’t COMPLETE the collection without it. For a Singaporean, braving the haze overnight to finish your holy quest for the Last Kitty is a crowning achievement, like putting your hand on a car for days just to drive it home a winner. Kiasuparents folk are selling the same toy for $50. Pfft…amateurs.
McDonald’s ditched the ‘purchase with every meal’ promotion out of good intentions; to stop people from throwing away burgers and wasting food, as evident during the initial 2000 Kittydemic. But as lucrative as this craze is for the company, you can’t help but wonder what founder Ray Kroc feels about this marketing sacrilege, that instead of rushing for old-fashioned American hamburgers, Singaporeans are saying ‘To Hell with Big Macs’ and thronging stores for Japanese dolls. A psychiatrist in 2000 called it ‘compulsive-acquisition syndrome’, I call it madness. Meanwhile, I can’t even order an Apple Pie from the counter because of these lunatics. How are those senior counter staff going to cope with demanding, violent Kitty addicts? McDonald’s might as well get rid of the tables and chairs and just fill their stores with snaking queue lines and armed guards, like a methadone clinic. They would also do well to equip all staff with parangs and tranquiliser darts to defend themselves in the event of a queue-jumper wrecking havoc like a bull in a china shop.
We should always prepare for Hello Kitty mob violence. In 2000, a glass door in a Boon Keng Macs was SHATTERED by the crowd, causing injuries to 7 customers, with 3 HOSPITALISED. 6 people were also arrested for making a nuisance of themselves. A DOCTOR and a lorry driver got into an ugly scuffle. There were even reports of fainting, traffic congestion and MOLEST. It’s the kind of rowdy looting you would expect in a famine or zombie infestation, yet no such ruckus has been reported for N95 face masks to date. Even if we were threatened with poison gas, I think Singaporeans would queue up calmly for gas mask or antidote supplies. Getting your lungs incinerated is a small matter compared to the shame of your neighbour snagging a Singing Bone while you HAVEN’T.
The Singing Bone, however, is not so much ‘fairy tale’ as it is a macabre horror story of revenge and FRATRICIDE. Few would bother to find out more about its origins and assume that the Kitty was inspired by the Nightmare before Christmas and is just a jolly feline skeleton that goes around distributing candy during Halloween. Like the Sirens that sent Greek sailors to their watery graves, the Singing Bone has lulled the nation into a stupor of compulsive queuing and quick regression into base savagery, flushing decades of courtesy campaigns down the toilet. It’s no coincidence that this Hello Kitty resembles a voodoo doll; it has infected us all with its dark, wicked spell. If you’re a parent, do your child a favour and tell the Singing Bone story at bedtime while he’s hugging the toy. Next thing you know he’ll be setting it on fire or brandishing a crucifix at the cursed thing.
As a money-spinner, Hello Kitty is a phenomenal success. As a branding exercise built around service, Happy Meals and the Golden Arches, it’s a CATastrophe.
Postscript: A fake alert was posted on the McDonald’s Facebook page according to Lianhe Zaobao once Singing Bone sold out, warning black market profiteers that the ‘Management Team’ would be working with the police to bring perpetrators of this outrageous scalping to justice. ‘Dissapointed’ is either a grotesque lapse in spelling or a deliberate combination of ‘dissed’ and ‘disappointment’. As if muckracking at outlets isn’t enough, some resort to impersonation to make sure that if they can’t have their Kitty, NO ONE ELSE WILL.