January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
9 months ago

Michelle Obama: 'Inappropriate' to use daughters to sell dolls

Ty, the maker of Beanie Babies, is introducing two new Ty Girlz dolls named Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha.
Ty, the maker of Beanie Babies, is introducing two new Ty Girlz dolls named Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – They’ve been in the White House less than a week, but the first daughters have already been co-opted by marketers — and Michelle Obama isn’t happy about it.

Ty, the toy company responsible for the popular Beanie Babies dolls, is now marketing “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls.

The first lady’s office said Friday Ty was out of line. “We feel it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes,” said a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama in a statement.

A Ty representative told CNN the company generally avoids naming dolls for “any particular living individual,” because doing so might interfere with how kids use their imaginations to play with them. But they wouldn’t reveal the source of their inspiration for the new figures, telling CNN that information relating to the development of the company’s merchandise - including how it comes up with products, product names, and trademarks – is proprietary.

Related video: First lady miffed by 'Malia,' 'Sasha' dolls

–CNN White House Producer Becky Brittain contributed to this report.


Filed under: Michelle Obama • Obama family • Popular Posts
soundoff (966 Responses)
  1. Vito

    that is crossing the line... especially without having the obama's know about it or even give permission.

    it's like hannah montana trying to get the obama girls onto her show

    sickening

    January 23, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Not even for dog catcher

    "For the first time in my adult life", I agree with Mrs. Obama.

    "This is a downnright mean" doll company and would be a great thesis subject on how hateful a doll company can be in spite of the millions upon millions of children they have made happy and the millions they have given to charity.

    January 23, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. Kris

    The dolls are cute, the names are sweet and the Obama girls are absolute dolls themselves. However Ty is entirely out of line to market these dolls without prior consent.

    January 23, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. waxwing069

    I think it's also wrong. I mean TY has all thier toys patented where no other company or person can duplitcate thier products. They should not be able to use someone's person for thier own use. TY has sued people over the same thing TY is now doing to the First Family.

    January 23, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  5. NW

    Ball is on your court, TY. Make it right.

    January 23, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. ALL CAPS

    Malia and Sasha aren't exactly common names–and the two names Together spell "exploitation for profit." This is crazy. I agree with Mrs. Obama.

    January 23, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. Mike

    If Ty has any sense, they'll stop producing these dolls immediately. It's patently obvious that the names and ideas for these dolls are taken from the likeness of Obama's two daughters. So, they can either cease production or prepared to be sued for inappropriately using someone's likeness in violation of their rights of publicity because, like it or not, those two girls now how those rights given that they've been thrust into the public eye.

    January 23, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Michael Kennedy

    One more thought here, thousands if not millions of girls across the country age going to want to emulate your daughters, their hair style, dress, etc simply because they are the girls of the president. It comes with the territory of being the current ocupants of the White House, are you genuinly supprised at this fact?

    January 23, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. Dan from Philly

    How stupid do these morons at Ty think people are. Yeah, ok, it's just a *coincidence* that these two dolls are named Sasha and Malia.

    Slap 'em with a cease and desist order, I say!

    January 23, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. Pinklady

    I agree that these girls should not be exploited and should live a normal a life as possible.

    Mrs. Obama should remember that it was the transition team that released pictures of the girl's first day of school. She should remember that instead of a normal ride to school on the first day they chose a motorcade with a police escort. If she wanted privacy for her children she should stop using them when it is politically expedient.

    January 23, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. s.allen

    Though I think the dolls are cute. I agree with First Lady Obama. No only is it not appropriate but insensitive. These are not young adults, they are children whom need the opportunity to be just that. There parents are not starting a career merchandising there daughters. Ty, why do you feel you have the right. I will no longer spend my money on any of their products.

    January 23, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  12. Turtle

    Ty won't reveal the name of their inspiration for the dolls?? Come on .. who do they think we are!!!!!

    I agree with Mrs. Obama on this one. It would be a different story if they had asked to use the girls for this purpose. I can promise that this household will NOT be buying these Beanies.

    January 23, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. Sembo

    Well, when you are in the limelight, this is what happens. At least they are nice looking dolls. Parents of the dead soldiers who fought in Iraq have tried to keep the names of their son's and daughter's off of T shirts produced in Arizona to no avail. The courts have ruled it freedom of speech.

    January 23, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  14. yellow dog democrat

    Unfortunately this is the price of being a "public" figure. I don't know if something could be done since the girls are minors and innocent of any public personna.

    I'm sure Sara Palin would be very upset if it were done to her children....

    Michelle is right to voice her disapproval though.

    January 23, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Dylan

    They "wouldn’t reveal the source of their inspiration for the new figures?"

    Oh yeah ... I think it's pretty obvious where you got it!!

    January 23, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. etta

    Sounds like a good mother protecting her girls.

    January 23, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  17. willcnnpostthis

    @ Doug

    How would you feel if someone started selling dolls of your kids with your permission?

    Yeah didn't think so, so maybe you should crawl back into that cave you came out of.

    @ JerryD

    People are supposed to respect the privacy of Politician's families. It is tradition dating past JFK. This is a shameful attempt to exploit these girls for profit.

    January 23, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. Pinklady

    I agree that these girls should not be exploited and should live a normal a life as possible.

    Mrs. Obama should remember that it was the transition team that released pictures of the girls' first day of school. She should remember that instead of a normal ride to school on the first day they chose a motorcade with a police escort. If she wants privacy for her children she should stop using them when it is politically expedient.

    January 23, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  19. Snake eyes

    THIS IS NOT ILLEGAL AND NOT DISTASTEFUL, BUT ARGUABLY INAPPROPRIATE. DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME SOME SECRET FOCUS GROUP JUST RANDOMLY CAME UP WITH SASHA AND MALIA AS DOLL NAMES?? PROPRIETARY MY ARSE!!!

    January 23, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  20. Anthony Smith

    She should have thought about that before she gave Barack the ok! She had to know that the children wouldn't grow up like normal kids.
    She is acting like actors who use and manipulate the media to make money but once they interfere with their agenda, they get pissed off. Get over it!

    January 23, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  21. La*C

    Can they do that without permission?!?!

    January 23, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. ljo

    Ugh. Worse than using the girls' names, I think, is using the girls' names and portraying them as dolls with breasts! That's tacky and just plain icky.

    Oh, but right, the dolls aren't actually supposed to be the Obama girls. *rolls eyes*

    January 23, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Brian

    Anything for a quick buck.

    You should see the hawkers at ground zero, selling their photos of the former Twin Towers.

    You can't stop them, no matter what you do.

    January 23, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. Bry

    Boo Hoo

    January 23, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. California Gold

    The children are minors who should not be exploited by a private business for commercial gain. These children are not public property. Their parents and the media are committed to keep the children out of the public eye. This is utterly inappropriate. As a Mom I would also have my point of view known. Why anyone thinks it's acceptable to exploit these little girls to cash in is beyond belief.

    January 23, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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