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. miguel

    By the way, you CAN take the name of public figures like the President or his family and use it to sell dolls. This is legal.

    January 23, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. Snortle Blownettie

    still pretending to be taking comments? Who is writing them? Your interns?

    January 23, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  3. Sean

    I love how everyone keeps saying that the children are off-limits. However, when the shoe was on the other party and people went after Palin's baby boy Trig, it was ok and acceptable. If you're going to say children shouldn't be used, it shouldn't just be based on who you like and don't like.

    January 23, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  4. Mike from KC

    I think that Ty is completely disgusting for doing this. The fact that they back-pedaled during their response shows a lack of serious judgement.
    I am not one to boycott stuff, but this is one worth participating in.

    January 23, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  5. Thomas5

    Perhaps Ty took a lesson from the Left and simply decided to seize and redistribute what they wanted? Perhaps they reasoned, "Those names and likenesses belong to the Obama girls, but we're going to seize and redistribute them to ourselves, use them for what we want, and then benefit from it."

    Just like the Left does it with wealth.

    January 23, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  6. legal in nc

    As you do with most of my comments that are "awaiting moderation" I'm sure you'll let my last one hold on until time expires and it is deleted. I guess that this is just the beginning of the end of free speech in America. If it doesn't promote the agenda of the left then let's silence it.

    January 23, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. r u kidding

    I can't believe some of the comments on this post. The same people who where griping about the media hounding on Governor Palin's daughter about her pregnancy (that was totally inappropriate) are saying this comes with the territory. This is terrible. Yes President Obama and First Lady Obama chose to be in the limelight, but the children didn't. And all of you who are saying this is to be expected and this is OK must not have any children of your own.

    January 23, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. Ian

    I agree with the First Lady. That is totally inapropriate. They should not release the dolls for sale. If they have, do a recall.

    January 23, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  9. BK

    Raf, you're wrong. Everything Michelle and the kids wore to the inauguration was custom made for them. While the coats were J Crew, they were one of a kind. On the other hand, everything purchased for Palin was off the rack. Don't get me wrong, I can't stand Palin, and I think Michelle is fine, but let's not make stuff up just because we like the Obamas more.

    January 23, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. mARGE

    I agree one hundred per cent. They are totally out of line. If I were the obama's I would make them pull them off the market at once.

    Asking permission to make the dolls is one thing but using them anyway is outrageous. I am sure they would not have been allowed to do this.

    January 23, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. JO

    Why not ask any little girl if those dolls are ugly. They are darn cute despite their names. Big ado about nothing.

    January 23, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  12. lr

    should not the company first ask Obama's if they can use the names for the dolls? Is it legal to use a person to make a product named and pictured from them?

    I agree with first lady.

    January 23, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. Suzi

    The President and his family are not actors or rock stars. This is the Office of the President of the United States and has traditionally been given respect because of that. Past President's have had their children live relatively protected lives - not completely, but relatively.

    This is not the same situation as other public figures at all. It's about the Office of the President.

    January 23, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  14. Eugene

    Dear Folks Still Bitter as H...: Sasha and Malia are children. If you still hate their parents, that is okay. Vote for the opposing party in 2012. Leave all kids out of commercial exploitation.

    January 23, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  15. I didn't even vote for Obama

    And I think this is shameful.

    Those girls are not the president. Someone else should not profit from their likeness.

    Say no to TY products.

    January 23, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  16. TrueIndependent

    I really would not feel so bad if the dolls were made in the U.S. But no, they were made in China!!!!!

    January 23, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. k

    Why do you dummies still insist on bringing up Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain in every story when they are not even close to be the topic? Geez...and who's jealous?

    Welcome to public life Obummers...

    January 23, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. TrueIndependent

    I wouldn't feel so bad if the dolls were made in the U.S. But no, these ugly dolls were made in China!!!

    January 23, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  19. dukehester

    maybe she can be proud of her country finally. maybe she can now tell all marketers to stop all action figures, WWF figures, all barbie like dolls, all oprah dolls, etc. that ought to really help move us all towards the socialism she and the rock star seem to want.

    January 23, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  20. Remy

    Toy company is a greedy one and serve nothing. Some posters here tell that the Obama children are PUBLIC figures. How? Can they vote? Can those kids make public speeches?

    This is a clear sign of child exploitation! The toy company must be punished!

    January 23, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  21. Tonya

    I understand why Ms. Obama would be upset as a mother, but I believe Ty has the right to make the dolls.

    But to actually go on the record and say that the naming was random? Seriously? Now they're trying to insult our intelligence and that ticks me off. They'll probably sell tons of dolls, but they would've sold many more had they not tried that stunt.

    January 23, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. Greg Hodges

    Is it not amazing how these companies keep insulting our intelligence with these lame denials. Anything for a buck!!!

    January 23, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  23. Virginia Republican

    Ahem, Michelle–you put them in the fishbowl. Now you gotta pay the piper.

    January 23, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  24. Goops

    I am not sure why everyone is getting so upset. Many companies are making money off of Obama and his family. J-Crew's stock has gone way up. J-crew by the way is not a very cheap brand of clothing. We are considered "rich" by Obama's future tax policies and we hardly buy J-crew stuff unless on sale b/c it is not cheap. This is a tough economy, give the Ty company a break. I am going to buy the dolls and put them away as a piece of history. It is obvious that Ty used the first daughters for their inspiration for these dolls but I do not really think it is a big deal. Obama is publishing special letters to his daughter, they are all over People magazine etc. If they really wanted to keep the children private, they would not be putting them on the cover of People or using them as political puppets. I will not be boycotting the Ty company. Silly people getting all crazy over nothing. I think that people should be more upset with the fact that we are now funding abortions with our tax dollars abroad. Hmmm, since I will be paying a higher tax rate in 2011 or sooner if Pelosi has her way, I feel that I have a right to complain about that.

    January 23, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  25. larry c wilson

    This is one of the least important problems facing the American people.

    January 23, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
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