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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/01/22/obama.dolls/art.sasha.malia.dolls.ty.jpg caption="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. Maria

    When a person becomes a public servant then he brings his family into the arena. At least this is TY doing cute dolls and not playboy naming new bunnies. Get over it people, it's just 2 names. There are a lot of girls named Malia and Sasha so it's not like the Obamas OWN those two names. The dolls look nothing like the girls, so they are not "likenesses" so TY has done nothing wrong.

    January 23, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. A Groman

    TJ: the difference is those were of Bush, not of the Bush daughters. Even though i despise Bush, his daughters and his wife were off-limits and i would be just as disgusted.

    January 23, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. raul

    I agree with Mrs. Obama !!!!

    January 23, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Angela Tacoma Washington

    I can understand Michelle being upset with Ty for not asking and permission. However the names were used in a positive light the dolls do not look like the girls. It is legal , unfortunately, no one can claim rights to a name. On another note, other little girls who admire them and who can only dream of living their life, with two loving parents who adore them, can pretend to do so without the girls being harmed. Quite frankly, we adults dream of living Barracks and Michelle's life style, only we are "too old to play with dolls...

    January 23, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  5. Carrie

    Stop trying to make a quick buck and leave those kids alone. So obvious, jeez....

    January 23, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  6. skip

    I'll bet that at least 75% of you naysayers have already looked online for these and half of you hit the "buy it now" button. the world is full of talkers not do'ers. Obamessiah will find that out soon enough.

    January 23, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  7. Texas Teacher

    This is obscene.... is there no limits to the depths to which these money hungry vermin will stoop?

    I'm simply appalled. 🙁

    January 23, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  8. Vicki Haron

    Poor Michelle, already showing her true colors. It has not even been one week and she is gripping about two dolls that do not even look like her daughters. The dolls appear to be mixed or hispanic. Sasha is a common name. I suppose Michelle will make it a new law that no one can name their children Sasha and Milia. That would be exploiting the girls. No one ever tried to do that to the Bush twins.. NOT. They were called drunks and every thing else just because they were drinking under age. It is part of the package. You are married to the President, you are going to be made fun of on Saturday Night Live and so are the kids.

    January 23, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  9. Kerri

    welcome to the big leagues....michelle my belle

    January 23, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  10. Vicki Haron

    By the way, no one buys Beenie Babies anymore. The new popular toy is Webkinz. So go ahead and boycott the TY company. LOL

    January 23, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. Deb

    We aren't talking about President Obama TJ but about his daughters.. you know.. 'children' ... I hated Bush and would have bought a Voodoo doll of him had I seen them for sale.. and you can hate President Obama as much as you want to but no one made dolls or bobble heads of Bush's daughters. The only time anything negative came up was when they were caught drinking underage at college parties... Obama's girls are still just little girls. Grow up and maybe see someone about your bitterness.. or at least wait 8yrs and then if Obama has done as poor a job as Bush maybe you'll be able to get your hands on President Obama Voodoo doll.

    January 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  12. Independent Dave, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Obviously the Obamas need to take some lessons from the Palins on how to exploit your children for political/monetary gain. Sarah had no problem at all parading her children around during her campaign.

    January 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Coultergeist

    Somewhere in Alaska, Sarah Palin is having a hissy fit. Those should've been HER kids!

    January 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  14. respectprivacyof kids

    Very unfair n tastelss. My circle of friends have just agreed to boycott all Ty products, until the company apologizes and withdraws the dolls.

    January 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. RB

    Even more offensive than these dolls can anyone explain why the First Lady is being referred to as Michelle whereas just several days ago the First Lady was referred to as First Lady Laura Bush?

    January 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. J.L.

    My objection to these dolls is not that Ty modeled them on the President's kids, although it is kind of tacky. It's that Ty lied about how they named and developed them like it's the secret formula for Coca Cola or the Colonel's secret recipe. They STOLE someone's likeness and name and then pretend that they own it? Do they really think we're that stupid to believe that?

    January 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. Neutral

    Had Obama been a Republican those toys would be a comedy act for the far-left.

    January 23, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. Thea

    There is a whole lot of ignorance being displayed on this board right now. The Ty Company was dead wrong. Our First Lady is doing what a mother should do, and that is look out for her children and protect them.
    They might want to rethink tangling with Mrs. Obama. She is an excellent lawyer, remember, she was her husband's mentor.

    January 23, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  19. nancy nunn

    I am a retailer and the dolls were specifically marketed to me as President Obama's daughters. To deny this, is disingenuous on Ty's part.

    January 23, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  20. yoyolite

    The Obamas have always stated that their children were off limits. Ty knows that the dolls have unique names. The coincidence of naming dolls Sasha and Malia is far reaching. AQnd these happen to be the ONLY black dolls Ty have ever made. HHMMMM sounds a little suspect to me.

    January 23, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    they must have a lot of time in their hands

    January 23, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. roger in ga

    Well I did not vote for President Obama and I am some what pleased with what he has done so far, I feel that his girls are off limits. TY has crossed the line. They do not wish to make known the source of their inspiration but do we have to wonder very much with the names attached? Had McCain / Palin won, would they have produced dolls of the McCain children? Have the children of other Presidents been made into dolls? Did TY get releases signed for the use of the names of the girls? I suspect that TY is going to suffer more than financially behind this screw up. A Likeness of The President or the First Lady is fair game but the children are off limits. I'll not buy either of them for my girls.

    A boycott seems in order.

    January 23, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  23. frankie

    Brilliant move by Ty. Get over it Michelle...

    January 23, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Jen

    Talk is STILL cheap! All the statements in the world don't compare to simply NOT buying the dolls. Trust me, Ty Co. will hear THAT more than any words!

    January 23, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  25. Scott Tucson

    Michelle probably woundn't be too upset over it if she were getting a cut from the sales of these dolls.

    January 23, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39