January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
6 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. mb

    I see a quiet law suit, not only for the dolls, but for all that have printed Obamamemorabilia with out permission. Also there is a big security risk if Ty is from outside the country. For example; What are those dolls stuffed with? Is there lead in the paint used? Get smart America and let go of your pettiness and jealousy. The first lady is right on this one and the risk of our security could be at risk.

    January 24, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Harry from IL

    I don't see what the big deal is.

    January 24, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Karl

    The outrage about Bristol Palin?

    You mean when Barack Obama specifically said to leave Bristol Palin out of the campaign because it's nobody's business? I guess you must have missed that bit of news when it was first announced Bristol Palin was pregnant.

    This is a company trying to cash in on two little girls. Unless the Obama children are receiving hefty royalties for the use of their names and likenesses, Ty should discontinue these dolls immediately.

    January 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. ESTELLA DAVIS

    DID MICHELLE OBAMA NOT KNOW THAT HER DAUTHTERS ARE A PART OF THE FIRST FAMILY IN THE WHITEHOUSE? AS SUCH, THE TERM, PRIVATE CITIZENS, DO NOT APPLY, EVEN THOUGH THE FIRST FAMILY IS ENTITLED TO THEIR PRIVATE LIVES? YOUR IMAGE BELONGS TO THE ELECTORS OR PEOPLE. THIS IS THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR THE FORTUNE AND FAME. THE TERMS, "PRIVATE CITIZENS" AND "PRIVATE LIVES" ARE DIFFERENT AS ANY HIGH POWERED ATTORNEY SHOULD KNOW.

    January 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. Bob

    D.B. Ferguson January 23rd, 2009 10:43 pm ET
    "NO BIAS, No Bull" ? I am very disappointed in one of my favorite anchors. Campbell Brown (and Ed Henry) seem to be getting very
    negative (1/23) . . .
    -----------
    I'm ELATED that some CNN anchors are finally starting to report on what actually IS - and NOT what they WANT it to be! Keep up the good work.

    January 24, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. roy zelman

    The FBI and the Secret Service should make note of some of the disgusting comments on this website. The venom and palpable HATRED is extremely scary; these are the kind of people who politicians have to be kept safe from.

    January 24, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Karl

    For every person who's accusing Michelle Obama or Barack Obama of dragging any of the Palin children into the election process in any sort of negative manner, you really need to get your memory checked. It never happened.

    January 24, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Chet

    Public figures are always recognized in one way or another. The Obama's must understand that they can't protect their children, as the Clinton attempted, from noteriety, the Internet...

    January 24, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. bjm

    The dolls are a bad idea based on corporate greed.

    January 24, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. Believing for a Purple Nation

    Even my 13 year-old daughter could see this company has used the First Daughters names as the 'inspiration' for these dolls.
    Ty, you are out of bounds on this one.

    January 24, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  11. OregonCoast

    Shame on you, Ty

    January 24, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Karen

    Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. After all they chose to release that stupid letter he wrote to his kids. Once they do that, or bring them on stage at the DNC, then they lose the right to complain. She needs to get a life, i mean exercise, so she can wear those sleeveless dresses that she prefers and that look so ghastly on her. She must be smarting from all those comments about her outfits that questioned her crowning as a style icon.

    January 24, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Bill

    It is not illegal and if you do not like it....do not buy one.

    Now if we were a facist state then Obama could just have the Company closed down and the owners thrown into a dungeon.

    January 24, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. Mike, Syracuse NY

    The Obama's have no problem trotting out the girls when the want to score a few points, like that TV interview during the campaign. Yet when it's not them doing the exploiting it's inapproipriate. The need to make up their minds. Either keep them entirely out of the spotlight themselves, or accept what happens. @Raf, the J Crew clothes that the girls wore to the inauguration were custom made for them, not off the shelf. Wanna bet J Crew is also cashing in on that? Michelle, you wanted the job, now live with it warts and all.

    January 24, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. WakeUpAmerica.

    People are missing the issue. This is a mother defending the likenessof her children. Palin defended her children, Bush his, Clintons did, Mc Cain did. The office held and the election have no bearing. If TY made a doll of any one of the posters families, they would be upset if not looking for compensation.The fact that so many people on here are still upset about the election or have such hot opinion about anything Obama shows how misguided and angry people are. Maybe the energy could be focused into a btter issue. Read a book with your kids and focus on your own and let them raise theirs.

    January 24, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. ESTELLA DAVIS

    MICHELLE, YOU COULD HAVE LET YOUR MOTHER ADOPT YOUR DAUGHTERS AND SHE COULD HAVE KEEP THEM UNDER HER CHARGE AND CUSTODY AND OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE, WHICH IS A TAXPAYER MORTGAGED HOUSE. BUT, YOU LET THEM BASK IN THE GLORY OF THE CAMPAIGN AND THE INAUGURATION AND NOW YOU THINK ALL COMMERCIALISM WILL JUST DISAPPEAR LIKE A HOUDINI ACT? MICHELLE, AT 45, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN THAT, AND A HIGH POWERED ATTORNEY UP THERE WITH OPRAH WINFREY SHOULD DEFINITELY KNOW BETTER. IT'S BUSINESS, ALL BUSINESS. GOOD BUSINESS.

    January 24, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. Kim

    YOU GO MICHELLE!!!

    January 24, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. Nova J Shah

    Ty, shame on you.

    January 24, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  19. catmom

    It's really sad that so many people want to take their frustrations out on two little girls. They did not run for office, their father did. Their parents have taken great measures keeping the children out of the limelight. Those of you whining about the Obama's using their daughters have not been following the Obama's.
    As far as comparing Palin's children, SHE, PALIN was the one that dragged her children all over the place. SHE, PALIN was the one who put her daughters business in public when it was not necessary. SHE, Palin is the one who keeps coming out with ridiculous statements to keep herself in the limelight.

    January 24, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. ronvan

    Typical, business as usual. I have many Ty beanie babies from over the years, however, if they have done this without permission then they are wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!!

    January 24, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. John Wright

    I am not an Obama fan at all. But this is disgraceful. It was wrong when the left attacked the Bush girls. This too is wrong. We the People couldn't get the powers that be to stop their attacks on kids. We the consumer have a call on this one. We need to punish Ty, make them feel it. Then others will think twice before doing this sort of thing in the future.

    January 24, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Jim

    Discussing the actions of the children of public figures is one thing. Exploiting them for profit is another thing entirely. I think this is absolutely dispicable.

    January 24, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. Mary

    This a major intrusion on their privacy and should be removed immediately..If they want to market the dolls they should remove the names and leave that blank. It is uncalled for to use these young children to make money. To money hungry people nothing is sacred..

    January 24, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. fren

    i believe the company that is amking the obama girl dolls should stopm amking them and any money earned go directly to charity. they did not get the obamas authrizationfor the dolls.

    January 24, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. Againsty

    Whoever behind this idea in Ty is the most insensitive shallow human being. Leave the girls alone! Forget about your $$ making for once.

    January 24, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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