HeyTea collaborates with Studio Ghibli… sort of

On 10 July, HeyTea announced its latest collaboration that promises to spirit you away to a summer in the world of Studio Ghibli animations. Founded by animated film director Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, the studio has produced many iconic films by Miyazaki and others, such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001) and the latest Oscar-winning The Boy and the Heron (2023).

The collaboration is centred around 2 drinks, both of which are bubble teas with ice shavings. But the teas themselves reflect 2 of the most popular characters from Ghibli’s catalogue of iconic characters – Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro and No Face from Spirited Away. Both teas are Japanese-inspired, with shaved ice at the bottom. Totoro sports a green coat for his matcha bubble tea while No Face is brown to represent the hojicha version. Merch-wise, other than the cups, the two also have their own magnets while other characters are collectively displayed on stickers and the bag.

However, upon closer inspection, the collaboration is not a direct co-branding with Studio Ghibli. The official hashtag gives it away: “HeyTea Studio Ghibli Story collaboration” (#喜茶吉卜力工作室物语联名#) and gained a modest 1.15 million views on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent. Studio Ghibli Story, it turns out, is an immersive art exhibition officially licensed by Ghibli. This explains why the art style on the co-branded merch doesn’t look exactly like Ghibli’s work. But the exhibition does feature immersive experiences from screens and installations to show the history of the beloved animation studio and 10 of its best works.

With themed HeyTea branches across the country, the move can not only draw Ghibli fans to the tea chain, but also drive summer traffic to the Shanghai exhibition, as the summer holidays draw near. Not to mention HeyTea’s prize draw offers for tickets to the exhibition. Classic Ghibli films have been returning to the big screen in China (some for the first time). Both the exhibition and the collaboration can help raise awareness of these classic animated films among children and grownups alike.


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