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. pk

    To the Ty Company: It's not too late to take the high road. What would you want if they were your children? The press respects the wishes of the Obamas. We can all do the same.

    January 24, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. American45

    Who cares? Obama promised jobs – this is a way he and his family can contribute.

    January 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. SMSNJ

    No Hilary: You obviously can't comprehend the difference between people creating Obama merchandise and a major toy corporation creating two dolls after two underage children, all the while playing dumb. Ty should be ashamed of themselves. First, they exploit the new First Daughters just to make a profit. Then they can't even own up to it, and chalk it up to a coincidence! Unreal.

    January 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. P. Y.

    These companies will do anything to make a buck. For you out there who say " How does she know it is her children " ? Well, duh ! 2 black little dolls with names of Malia and Sasha that come out within days of the inauguration. Give me a break !

    Also, lets stop the propaganda piece out there by the " Bush Girls to the Obama Girls ". It was featured on the Brian Williams show last night. This is pure propaganda for the Bush Family. Check it out!

    January 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. PJP

    I wish they would make an Obama doll and then I would get one and hide him somewhere so I could pretend he doesn't exist.

    January 24, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. bendover

    its going to be a funny 4 years, she is taking it so personal.. this is just the start.

    January 24, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. dorothy corrigan

    This move by TY is entirely out of line – Would the makers of these dolls use their own children in this way ???
    I consider this a violation of human rights, an infringement on privacy, nothing short of making a child a commodity!

    January 24, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. Don of Iowa

    Ty is so out of line on this it is pathetic, they should be sued and all proceeds going to the daughters and all further sales banned and they should have to pay punitive charges for the girls scholarship funds in the tune of at least a half million each, that should teach unethical businesses such as this a lesson, in fact, lets make it 2 million each daughter, lets set a better example for loser companies.

    January 24, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. Don of Iowa

    All of you hateful bigoted republican posters with no brains need to get a life and a real job just like Ty, yeah you know who you are the good ole boys of the GOP (Greedy Old Pigs)

    January 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Proud-American

    I agree with Michelle Obama, Ty should have not made the dolls, especially without their permission. And for you haters of the first black family ever in the white house–oh and don't forget that was built by slaves, get use to it this is a new day in america a black man is running things!!

    Peace

    January 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. Anti-Mary

    Any person who believes this is in any way right without the legal consent of the parents needs more than just a reality check – they need to reevaluate how they interact with every part of our society.

    If Ty doesn't make a 180 by Monday morning heck I'll boycott stores that sell Ty products.

    That'll make my 3 little ones real happy.

    January 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. Utah Carol

    When I was a little girl, there were no pretty black dolls. The only one my mother found for me was at an expensive children's boutique. While I do not appreciate that Ty used the real names of the Obama's children (they are minors after all), if this finally inspires toy manufacturers to create many, many pretty dolls of color, as opposed to the one "tolken black" American Girl doll, or the sleazy "Bratz" dolls, then I'm actually kind of excited about it.

    January 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Mitch

    You're all unbelievable. You say that you don't understand why Obama was put all over the place, but that his kids should be too? Well, guess what? He was a Presidential candidate and was always going to have companies after his face. But, these little girls don't deserve to turn on the T.V or go to the store and see replicas of them sitting on a shelf or in a commercial. You all need to grow up. Oh, and those saying that the Obama administration is doing terrible. They've been in office for FOUR DAYS! Obama even said himself that problems would'nt be solved instantly so how about you all take a chill pill and come talk to us Democrats in 2-3 months. That is all.

    January 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. Deb

    As an African American Woman, I really do not see the issue here. Our economy sucks and people are looking for ways of make a living. We need to stop being so uptight

    January 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Come on, really, you didn't use the First Families daughters as an inspiration for the naming your new dolls? I think the idea of coming up with the dolls were great marketing but not telling the truth about the naming source is a disgrace. What are you trying to teach our children? I don't expect a toy companies to teach our children anything but this is too much...

    January 24, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  16. Melba

    These kids are under 18 which is what makes this inappropriate.

    For all of the rest of you harping on the Obamas... get over it.. we supported your loser of a president for 8 years while he steered us into the poor house... now we have someone who has the potential to get us out of it... stop hating.

    January 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Karen in Cape Cod

    Totally inappropriate! Boycott Ty!!

    January 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. GlenR

    I see all the Obama haters are whining away on this one. Unfortunately since they are not using the girl's exact images there is no legal recourse. If Ty had been smart they would have donated a portion of the profits to a charity. Now they've shot themselves in the foot. Now Obama supporters won't buy them.

    And for all you whining haters...Ever wonder why you never saw a doll of the Bush girls? Drunkard dolls aren't especially popular.

    January 24, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. smile

    Come on, really, you didn't use the First Families daughters as an inspiration for the naming your new dolls? I think the idea of coming up with the dolls were great marketing but not telling the truth about the naming source is a disgrace. What are you trying to teach our children? I don't expect a toy companies to teach our children anything but this is too much...

    January 24, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Scott McGinley

    Good for Mrs. Obama for protecting her children. I agree.

    January 24, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. gwennie

    Its totally inappropriate for a private company to exploit these children – just as its totally inappropriate for Jon & Kate (plus 8) to exploit their children. All these children are private citizens and deserve much better. This is very disrespectful. In the end its all about the money! (BTW – in the early 60's I remember a Caroline Kennedy doll).

    January 24, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Dave in Houston

    It wouldn't be the first time presidential children's names were appropriated to commercial products.

    The Curtiss Candy Co. always stood by the story that the Baby Ruth candy bar was named after Grover Cleveland's daughter. If you look at the evidence and the timeline, you see that they were just trying to avoid getting sued by Babe Ruth for whom the candy was actually named.

    I'm sorry, Michelle, I agree that naming the dolls after your kids is in bad taste, but this is a free country and tastelessness cannot be banned.

    January 24, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. uncle junior

    For the first time in my adult life i am proud of my country!

    January 24, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Joyce Becker

    It is very wrong of the Ty company to make these dolls using the girls names. If they wanted to start making dolls instead of the beanie babies they they should have made them in all ethnic groups and use many different names. Even though the First Daughters are public figures it does not make it right to name the dolls after them. Have you seen Bush dolls or any of the other presidents children having dolls named after them. If they wanted to make those dolls they should have first asked permission from their parents, that would have been the ethical thing to do. These dolls will turn off a lot of people who will not buy them and then where does the jobs that is supposed to happen go to. Anyway, if any jobs would have been created I am sure they would have been Chinese ones.

    January 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Michele Got this Exactly Right

    Michele does not need to "get over it".

    Her response was appropriate yet measured and restrained. Not what the bigots would have wanted from someone they want to caricaturize as "the angry black woman".

    Ty denying that they patterned this off of the Obama kids is absurd and yet some IDIOT lawyer would attempt to stand up and convince the public this is so. Ty lacks ethics and so does anyone that would support them ... lawyer or public citizen. How many of you knew of anyone named Malia ... or could pronounce it properly ... before 2 years ago?

    Finally, the Obama's DID NOT parade their children around on the campaign trail. Their children were in school, where they belonged. Hands off ... Obama will be out of office just as the oldest daughter turns 18.

    January 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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