January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
7 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. Denise, Virgin Islands

    When I first heard about the dolls- I too was concerned and suspected the Obamas might be concern as well. The dolls could start out cute and then be marketed in negative way later. In the end they may not project what the Obamas want for their daughters.

    The President is fear game–but leave his children alone in your attempts to line your pockets off their fame.

    January 23, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Concerned Parent

    I am totally disgusted by this marketing ploy. Please take a moment and send an email to the firm and request that they stop exploiting the Obama children.

    My other post with a direct link to the TY company website was never posted! Go figure.

    January 23, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. John G

    Well you throw the kids into the spotlight and this is what you get

    January 23, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Mylee Goner

    Isn't buying things good for the economy? Won't Ty stock go up which will help Obama? Not sure what the problem is

    January 23, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. tk1

    HEY YOU LOST YOUR PRIVACY WHEN YOUR HUSBEND GOT ELECTED!!!!!!!!! DEAL WITH IT.......WE DIDNT VOTE FOR AN ANGRY, BITTER WOMAN TO BE FIRST LADY. I HOPE SHE DOSENT ACT LIKE THIS FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS.

    January 23, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Thirdeye

    A simple eye roll would do, Michelle. They won't be flavor of the month forever.

    January 23, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Shay

    I would hope that the American public will not purchase the Ty dolls.

    Why would Ty use the Obama girls names? They are trying to make a buck off the First Family.

    I wouldn't buy the dolls and I hope others will forego purchasing the dolls.

    January 23, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Sandra

    Perhaps, Ty Corporation should donate 50% of the money they make on the dolls to a childrens charity.

    January 23, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. JOhn

    Boycott TY. This gonna cost them big bucks. I think this country is fed up with corporations telling lies.

    January 23, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. merith

    i think some people missed it here... it's not simply 'you're in the limelight now'; it is the deliberate exploitation of those girls. their lives have already gone through some thoroughly major changes, and will continue to go through some major changes. to add this isn't going to help.

    and i strongly disagree with the other commenters about the 1st family being available for public display. no, that is not true. there is always public face and personal accountability, but these girls should not be thrust into something not of their (or their parents) choosing.

    TY, make it right.

    January 23, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. Stacy from NJ

    TY should be ashamed. I will not believe that they accidentally made their only two african american females those names randomly. Oh, they just happen to be the same names as the first daughters? Noone in the food chain made that connection and suggested they change it? Give me a break.

    January 23, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. yuck

    Jackie at 7:44pm said

    "Maybe, First Lady Obama would like it better if they were aborted beanie babies"
    ------------------------------

    Jackie, you are sick.

    No one LIKES abortion, as Pres. Obama has repeated many times. What we object to is government butting in to a woman's private life.

    And don't tell me you just don't think the government should permit ending life. I'll bet my right arm you're pro capital-punishment.

    January 23, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. yellow dog democrat

    ahemm I think I smell a lot of "wolves" in "Christian clothing" here.....hate is hate and some of you perpetuate it very well – must have a lot of practice – who else do you try to bring down to make yourselves better in "Gods" eyes!! The Great Spirit of us all does not find your spitefulness funny I'm sure.....then again we all came from nothing and will go to nothing....

    January 23, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Roland in St George, UT

    I think this is bad PR for Ty. I'm not a lawyer but isn't this unlicensed use of their daughters' likeness? Ty could have easily made two dolls that resemble young Black or African-American girls and given them two other upbeat and catchy names, but not used the girls' actual names. It would have been just as cool, and certainly more tactful (and probably legal).

    Roland
    St. George, UT

    January 23, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. BoiJaymason

    However, I think TY should own up to the fact that they totally are using the Obama girls. That is something to Boycott in a company. Not because they use dolls of 2 girls who are becoming famous very quickly.

    January 23, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  16. Kim

    Simple Thought - You're an Idiot !! Learn how to spell- you apparently learned the English language from your illiterate President. Typical garbage spoken from a sore Republican about the outcome of the recent election.

    To Ty -- Grow up + STOP trying to pull the wool over our eyes, esp. First Lady Michelle Obama. Anybody can read between the lines of your so called statement to CNN + The First Lady's Office. Your line of silly plush toys had its day, No One wants your MADE IN CHINA crap!!!!

    PLEASE BOYCOTT TY!!!!!!!

    January 23, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. EVOLVE

    GET A LIFE CNN. WE HAVE AN ECONOMY IN CRISIS AND YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT DOLLS.

    WHY NOT ASK ABOUT THE ECONOMIC STIMULAS PLAN? LOU DOBBS THE RIGHT WING REPUBLICAN IS DOING WHAT HE CAN SHOT IT DOWN AND MOVE US INTO A DEPRESSION. WHAT A MORON!!

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Rusty

    Apparently, CNN was too cowardly to post my last comment.

    Michelle Obama is a public figure and the family parades their children as fashion accessories. Barry & Michelle needs to learn from the one good thing I can think of about Bill and Hillary: the wall they put between the media and Chelsea.

    Until they do that, so sorry – they started this ball rolling.

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. Who cares

    You can use me and make some money please. just give me 10 cents per doll sold

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. LS

    I fail to see how this is inapproprate.

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. shannon

    wow, she's upset about this, but not when the girls were on the cover of people, on that Hollywood talk show, or up on stage posing for the cameras. Let's see the Obamas had their press office release photos of the girls first day at school but now she wants privacy for them. Can't have it both ways, don't have them pose for People Magazine, and maybe the media and toy companies would leave them alone.

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Remi Murphy

    Some of these people on the post wouldn't make it past the 3rd Grade. Elementary schools across the country tell children to be respectful, if not of others, then of themselves not behave shamefully.

    Some of you are NOT smarter than a 3rd grader.

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  23. sarah

    Children are off limits

    It is completely wrong what Ty is doing and they know it

    January 23, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  24. Cammi317

    They should not have done it, especially without first discussing it with the Obamas, but I have to say those dolls are ADORABLE.

    January 23, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. SHECKY

    Where was the outrage when everybody was picking on and making fun of the Bush twins?

    January 23, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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