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. LAR

    I hope they sue. It is pretty obvious who these dolls are suppose to look like and who they are named after. If it was Michael Jordan you can bet your life he'd be getting some royalties. This is a tacky company trying to make a buck off someone else and to top it off CHILDREN. Michelle is right, it crosses the line.

    January 23, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  2. Andre'

    This is horrible. They should not exploit these young girls unless they speak with the family first and donate 100% of the profits to a charity of their choice. How about inner city schools, or a college fund in their names. This company should not make one cent off of those girls. Boycott this company until they make a change to this product!

    January 23, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  3. Carla Gray

    Michelle should sue them as any other private citizen would do. Otherwise these things will continue to happen. Ty has to figure out some way to make a profit now that their Beanie Baby doll values have tanked and are no longer of any value. Did you know these happen to be the only 2 African American dolls in the new release? I wonder how many there are total? Now those may be the only ones of any value since I am sure they are rare if any others at all.

    January 23, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  4. Mark

    Come on libs, equality is in the White house. Now you are complaining about it. I didn’t hear you when the media was all over the Bush or Palins children. Cheers.


    January 23, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  5. Janie

    My, my ... all the indignant people commenting here! You all are making a big issue out of nothing. Michele just wants her cut of the profits... nothing more, nothing less! THAT is the only reason for her saying it is inappropriate!

    January 23, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. Dan

    I would normally agree that the children are off limits, but I think it would be better for everyone to give the profits to charity. Let the girls decide which charity to give the money to.

    January 23, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. RedBlue

    if Ty will make obama bobble head, and sell it. obama himself will launch that product, then why not this, in business only bottom line profits matter..

    by the way released Gitmo people will get obama bunch of money from arabic people so he will not ask for his bobble head profit, bunch of black folks will be in line for those dolls for sure

    lets see if democrates beloved CNN will publish this comment!!!

    January 23, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. Wow

    This is a shame and a pity. Ty should be ashamed of themselves.

    A shame and a pity!

    January 23, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  9. Mike

    Oh shut up, Michelle. You wanted to be in this positon yet you are whining about it only 3 days into your husband's presidency. Suck it up and get used to it!

    January 23, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  10. D. D.

    This is deeper than the Silly Season. They must know how perverted some people are and their possible use for the dolls.what were/are they thinking.
    Why didn't they make Barb and Jen dolls-?

    January 23, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. JAD

    I see nothing malicious or harmful about the dolls themselves. If TY's intentions were above board, then let the company sell them. Marketing and copyright concerns aside, it's a good opportunity to teach young ones about friendship and other good values. Come on, you KNOW the smoking Obama bobblehead is surfacing somewhere – isn't that exploitation?

    As for Michelle, I'd be more upset about the high school prom dress she wore to the inaugural balls than about her daughters being made into dolls.

    January 23, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  12. tracy

    I agree with NW. Ball is in Ty's court to do the right thing. Perhaps contribute 50%+ of gross sales to the charities of Malia and Sasha's choice!? Capitalism is a great, but at what cost?

    January 23, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  13. Polly

    This shouldn't be offensive to her. However, can they do this without her permission?

    January 23, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  14. jl2008

    The dolls' names don't even make sense. They look more like identical twins than the first daughters. Sasha and Malia look nothing alike. The designers need to get their eyes checked.

    January 23, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  15. mike

    Sorry first lady, but toy companies are about selling toys. And if those toys sell, they sell them.

    January 23, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  16. dave

    this silliness will stop when PEOPLE stop buying it. it has nothing to do with party or person. If you are stupid enough to purchase such crap, then please, oh please, go and sleep in it.

    January 23, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  17. Bridg

    On the one hand, I can understand the rush to exploit the beautiful Obama girls, considering what GOP has given us– the pot-smoking Bush twins (not to forget Sarah Palin's teenage pregnant daughter– who'd want to sell that??). However, I absolutely agree with Mrs. Obama; the Ty Company truly sucks for doing this to two young children who have no control over their parents' career choice.

    January 23, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  18. Carrie

    I think what Ty Corp did was wrong. And if the reported policy of not naming any toys after people is true, then I'm not sure what they think they're doing.

    But where were all you whiners when the Bush girls got attacked for writing the letter to the Obama girls? Calling them names and demeaning them. Where are you as the Palin children get dragged thru the mud and the media makes up stories about them? It's OK for the media and the nasty public to say terrible things about the children of any Republican figure, but oh no! Don't drag the precious Obama girls into any spotlight. Oh wait, they already have been, by their parents. Parade them around for almost 2 years, then say stop. Leave them alone, they're private citizens!! I'm so excited for 4 more years of this dribble.

    January 23, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  19. Marilyn

    This is disgusting! These are children! No matter what their parents do or choose to do these kids should not be exploited by some greedy corporation for their own profit,. Leave these little girls alone!

    January 23, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  20. Joe, Florida

    I voted for Obama; I'm very happy he's President, but there are realities the First Lady will have to live with. This remains a capitalistic society; she may get mad, it may be disrespectful (AND IT IS, and I THINK IT'S WRONG) but it is unavoidable; the best thing she could do I think is to do her best to make sure the girls don't end up becoming spoiled; other than that she can't control outside forces.

    January 23, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  21. tomas

    Boo Hoo! My daughter is a doll in my eyes and would have been proud of a toy company to portray her. Guess what, Michelle, you are still Jane Citizen in my eyes and enjoying the ride on your husband's coat tail!!

    January 23, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. Apple

    Whoever compared this to Bush bobble head dolls, etc. is missing the point. An Obama doll? Stupid, but okay. But did you see dolls with named and created after the Bush twins? No.

    The parents get no privacy. The kids do.

    Grow up.

    January 23, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  23. Polly

    I think there are a lot of girls out there who would like to have one or both of these dolls. I think the company probably thought they were good role models for young girls. I can remember a day when this sort of thing was a compliment.

    January 23, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  24. OKAY

    Mrs O.
    It comes with the territory. Just thank God that they are nice decent pretty dolls and not voodoo dolls.
    I can tell u, more commericalization is yet to come.. Everyone seems to want a part of the OBAMA family.

    I will say that i didn't agree with the TY company in blatently using the Obama girls name. They could've been a bit more indirect with their attempt and named the dolls .. Maliayana and Sashana. We all know where they would have been headed but in a less direct manner.

    January 23, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  25. Mobius

    She's right. This is pretty foul, even for Ty.

    January 23, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
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