January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
10 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. MsRed

    Boo Hoo deal with it, that's the price you pay just like others in power......

    January 23, 2009 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  2. Steve

    To Raf: Where have you been for the past 2 months that you still refer to Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree, when we all know that this isn't what really happened? Or is it easier to just keep spewing the same old liberal talking points, regardless of the facts?

    January 23, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  3. Katie

    Really! Michelle seemed fine with putting her children in the public eye during the campaign trail. Surely she must know this comes with the territory!

    January 23, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  4. Traci

    Does TY really think the American people are stupid enough to believe this was just a coincidence? I have no problems with the dolls themselves or with them naming the dolls after the Obama girls. But, to deny it really strikes me in a bad way. That's what I find tacky.

    January 23, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  5. JoePub

    Ernie in LA , me too. I can't wait to see what else gets people's panties in a wad.

    January 23, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  6. Chad

    How retarded in this company that they're willing to say that this is all just a coincidence? "Sasha" and "Malia" are not very common names, and so just the fact that they'd chose those names at random for the only two African American dolls they offer is absolutely bull.

    January 23, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  7. Blue balloons

    Don't censor me, CNN!

    BOYCOTT TY NOW! THEY HAVE NO ETHICS!

    January 23, 2009 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. Desmond Sequeira

    These are probably the only "First kids" who have dolls named after them. Is this because of the huge history -changing, awe-inspiring impact that their father has already had on the world? In that case, it might be just part of the tsunami of adulation the First Family is receiving. It seems everybody is cashing in on the Obama names. But, especially in the case of the children, one expects that prior permissions etc. are obtained.
    Hopefully, this doll idea was not inspired by the fact that the kids concerned are the first African-American First Kids in history? That would be really tacky, especially since it risks being seen as racist.

    January 23, 2009 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  9. Jim,California

    Can Ty spell GREED? I admire the First Lady's Restraint as in my mind
    " Inappropriate" is a extream understatement.

    January 24, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  10. IMPEACH NOW

    Aww, I see some of the Obama maniacs are offended by the Sasha and Malia dolls. Boo hoo. Where was the outcry when the media made a big deal about Bristol Palin's pregnancy? Oh thats right, Sarah Palin is not a Dem. By the way, the Messiah is sure off to a swell start with the economy. The Dow has been down 3 out of 4 days in the Zerobama administration. (but don't alert the liberal media, they'll just ignore it and pretend Bush is still the president) Yes we can!

    January 24, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  11. Oregon

    You're off our list Ty ~

    January 24, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  12. notmpresed

    I suppose it's alright to use your kids as a marketing tool until you win the election.

    January 24, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  13. samtnah

    i definately think we should boycott cause they tried to exploit the first children all to make money. The girls have nothing to do with their fathers election and although we love seeing Photos of them its just not right that the TY company is trying to do this and deny it when i think EVERYONE knows that the dolls are inspired by the Obama girls all around.

    January 24, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  14. TNmom

    The Palin children were mocked and wrote about; where was the outrage? The Obama girls are public figures not private. The Obamas put them out there. How do you think the innocent Palin children felt hearing and reading all the garbage put out about them and their family. HOW ONE SIDED THE ANGER!!!! These dolls are not mean spirited. How is this harming these children?

    January 24, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  15. Bry

    The Truth
    According to who?

    January 24, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  16. Matt in Ohio

    Hold on ... it seems I've horribly misread the article, and TY wants me to believe Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia were NOT inspired by the Obama daughters. Can you imagine being the External Relations Director saddled with trying to sell that message? That just might be the only job in America tougher than Obama's.

    January 24, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  17. Yeahtheyare

    I don't agree with the Obama's on much, but I do agree with Mrs. Obama on this. This company should be ashamed that it is exploiting the Obama's daugthers to make a buck.

    January 24, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  18. mike

    Lighten up, Michelle. You used your kids like puppets during the election, so now they are fair game. The left attacked Pres Bush's daughters and Vice President Cheney's daughter-so get used to it. What goes around comes around.

    January 24, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  19. IL voter

    Hey, Lynn, the GIRLS did not run for public office, so they surely did not invite the public into their private lives. There is a legal issue here. There is something called "likeness rights", and TY is skirting the law by denying the true inspirations for these dolls. TY is lucky they aren't being sued.

    January 24, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  20. No Hillary = No Obama

    Oh, but it's ok to have Obama's image turned into a saint on a votive candle with halo & robe as they were hawking on the streets – what a sacriligious insult. And it's ok to have Obama marketed on everything imaginable – – but's it's not ok to have dolls that may serve as role models for little Black girls. The Obama name is highly exploitable – the commercialization of the Obama's – I didn't hear any complaints about all this paraphernalia peddling and profiteering when it benefited Obama getting elected. Now, all of a sudden the daughters are off limits as soon as they take up residence in the White House? Tough.

    January 24, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  21. tonya

    Yep, Ty, guess what? My 3 daughters won't be buying another Ty product. Ever. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not African-American. What I am is disgusted that you coincidently decide to make two African-American dolls NOW (with the same names – imagine!), when you think it's in the best financial interest of your company and not because children of all colors would love dolls/toys representing them. You are obviously ALL about the mighty dollar. Great lesson for our children. With the bonus lesson of "if you're famous then you're more important."

    January 24, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  22. shyone

    get real ty

    January 24, 2009 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  23. BB

    If it were my daughters, I'd sue – big time – and give the proceeds from the lawsuit to a charity for underprivileged children. I'd make TY hurt financially. Maybe they wouldn't pull this tacky crap again.

    January 24, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. Lauren

    You have got to be kidding me Michelle. You should have thought of this WAY before your hubby wanted to be the Messiah.
    YOU also wanted the fame and fortune, the power, the world adoring you and wondering what dress your going to wear. Now deal with it, your kids are public figures. The private part of thier lives if off limits, no doubt, school, at home,,, but as far as making little look alike dolls,, fair game baby. If you do not like it, tell everyone not to worry so much about YOUR dresses.

    January 24, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. Judy

    This is a case of bad judgment and poor taste.

    January 24, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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