What happens when Hello Kitty meets Mount Rushmore?

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    I’d like to begin this week’s column with a word association game. I’ll offer up a couple of recognizable names and you share the first thing that comes to mind. Hello Kitty. How about the National Parks? We’ll stop there as these two icons will suffice as I make my point. Recently, I was watching a news program while attending a conference in Florida. At the end of the program the host shared a few "you won’t believe this" news bits.

    One of his jaw-dropping tidbits was that Hello Kitty has recently been minted on several versions of the Euro coin.  According to Hello Kitty’s maker Sanrio, five different designs will be minted in Paris. The Sanrio website states the designs are drawn on "the dreams and admiration Kitty has for Paris." While the most expensive 1-ounce gold coin is priced at 1,200 euros ($1,400 US), the actual face value is 50 euros ($42 US.) Order-taking has already started for the 4,000 coins that are available in five different designs. If Sanrio is sold out and you just can’t live without one of the limited edition coins, try eBay. I’m sure someone will be willing to part with their Hello Kitty euro for a handsomely inflated asking price.

    Next up – national parks. According to a recent news release from Commercial Alert (www.commercialalert.org), the National Park Service wants to solicit companies to let them use the Park Service in advertising or public relations campaigns in exchange for big contributions. This proposed plan would give corporations opportunities to put their logos in the parks – on park brochures, kiosks and benches, among other places.

    Think Enron, World Com and Adelphia.

    Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert offered the following on the national park proposal: "Our national parks are owned by the public; they should not be for sale. They exist for our enjoyment and edification, and to preserve their contents for future generations."

    So where will it end? Apparently nothing is off limits – not the euro or our beloved national parks. Some day, we will look back on these unfortunate trends and wonder why we, the public, didn’t do more to push back.  

    Share, Save Spend Idea
    Before we can push back with credibility, it’s important to understand how much this issue has crept into our own lives. To get a sense of what I mean, try the following.

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    sed author, award-winning speaker and national expert on family finances and the effects of mass marketing on young people. A top-performing financial advisor and vice president of marketing for a Fortune 500 financial services company, he founded Share-Save-Spend LLC, an organization that helps people of all ages develop and maintain healthy financial habits. His book, Prodigal Sons & Material Girls: How Not to Be Your Child's ATM, was released in 2003 by publisher John Wiley & Sons. Nathan is vice-chair of both the National Institute on Media and the Family and Minneapolis-based YouthCARE boards. Visit www.sharesavespend.com, e-mail [email protected] Copyright © 2005 Nathan Dungan. All rights reserved.

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