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. Ron in Raleigh

    I believe that Barack was clear during the campaign that families were off limits. I agree that families, especially the children, are off limits, both during the campaign and now that the Obama's are in the White House. This action by Ty is just another example of the cruel, self-serving, mean, no-holds-barred attitude that has grown up in corporate America. It is one of the attitudes that this country is sick of, and the country's distaste for it is probably a major reason Barack won the election.

    January 23, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  2. D.B. Ferguson

    "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) when reporting anything related to Barack Obama. They choose onty negative observations and report with facial expressions and tone of voice that is even sarcastic. There were signs of that in past reporting but now that seems to be the overeall tone.

    Very inapproiate to try to undermine the new administration!

    January 23, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. no to corporate politics

    After Obama taking big corporate donations.
    After he sold the Sunday "public park" concert to HBO for $5million.
    etc. etc.
    He kinda started the ball rolling on the money train.

    He is in office now – time to take responsibility.

    Public figures and their families are always mimiced, lampooned, and imitated and made fun of. Why would this be any different?

    Are we starting to wake from dreamy fog of the campaign dream?

    January 23, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Rob Stumpf

    Michelle...shut up. Thank you.

    January 23, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  5. George

    does wolf blitzer have shares in Ty ?

    January 23, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  6. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot...wasn't it inappropriate to exploit Governor Sarah Palin's daughter, Mrs. Obama?

    AHHHHhhhhhh, thought so!

    Where were you then, Dear?

    January 23, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  7. Larry in Houston TX

    As far as I'm Concerned, anytime you're in the "spotlight" you're fair game, doesn't matter what it is....In other words, if you're an actor / star / or anyone of that nature, you're making a heck of a lot of money !

    And if you can't stand the "paparrazi" or the "picture taking" .....
    It's like : "IF you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen"

    You're not carrying a "lunch bucket" or taking your lunch to work...
    You're into the BIG MONEY Scene, now.....so, in essence, you have to put up w/ it.....

    January 23, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  8. Kate WA

    By the way, how about Michelle O. saying that she & the girls are "strong so they will be able to endure their time in the Whitehouse!" Now how is that for gratitude for being elected into the highest station and lap of luxury in our country, and yes SHE asked to be there with her husband. What an ingrate and hypocrite.

    January 23, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  9. rainbow girl

    Right, "Sasha" and "Malia" are such common names! It's only "coincidence" that those are the dolls' names? NOT! Let's just hope NO consumes will buy them!

    January 23, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  10. Sean

    Actually, I think the dolls are really cute. But, if the parents are against it, then the dolls should be removed. I would love for my daughters to have their own dolls named after them..... I wonder how the Obama daughters really feel. Are they offended or delighted.? Are they being harmed in any format.? Curious to know their feelings on the subject. Or, could this cause any damage to them.? Just a thought people.

    I do, however, respect the rights of the parents.They really should have been asked first. It is just a thought.

    Again, I think that the dolls are really, really cute.

    The children are featured as children, not as sexual objects. Now, that would REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BE DISGUSTING.

    January 23, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  11. Larry in Houston TX


    January 23, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. Me

    why the heck should the company not be allowed to use these names? first lady needs to chill out.

    January 23, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  13. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    January 23rd, 2009 7:55 pm ET
    Wayne wrote:
    "The President of the United States is the public servant and figure, not his family!!!!!"
    Wayne, are you a liberal? Please tell me you are a liberal. If so, THEN WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE MEDIA WAS GOING AFTER SARAH PALIN'S FAMILY!!!??????????????????????????

    January 23, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. Elizabeth Iledare

    I love how you all changed the original title of the article. "Angry" probably wasn't the best word to use to describe our new first lady. I'm glad someone let you all know that.

    January 23, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. ugh

    Sue? No. Boycott? Yes.

    January 23, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. indiana voter

    If these were the children of Republicans, the same people complaining about the Obama children, would not be complaining. I do not believe for one second that you people care for the kids. You are just upset because Michelle is upset.

    Get over it! If Palin's kids are fair game, so are Obama's. The Obama's have four years at least, and they are already "offended" after less than a week being in the White House. I hope they have thicker skin when it comes to foreign affairs.

    January 23, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  17. Steve R

    Always loved the TY guy from Santa Barbara, CA ( you all know he owns the town, right!) but it's the last time I stay at Four Seasons Santa Barbara or San Ysidro Ranch. this is tacky cheesy marketing at it's worst, and it's because even though Ty Warner is rich, he has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the last 2 years. This is an effort to recoup the Beanie Baby Phenomena by co -opting the names of the presidents children. He's a still rich struggling businessman who is going "K-Tel, Fishin Magician" with his marketing to make a quick killing. Has anyone else noticed quality dropping at his "5 star resorts" ...I have and at usually $800-2500 per night he has real $$ problems Greedy and Cheesy if you KNOW THE REASONS

    January 23, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. vonda

    This is just wrong . They are children . I would be upset too if if was my children.

    January 23, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. D.Tin

    If you cannot see how wrong this is, then all I can say that you are a hateful person who does not see that the kids are innocent private citizens. Shame on you!!

    January 23, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. dpmd

    People should boycott this company for lying and exploiting. This is a marketing fiasco–or should be.

    January 23, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. Jacque Bauer

    Moose Obama would make a very popular doll, and in honor of Her Mooseness I will donate 50% of my earnings to charity for my Moose Obama dolls. Don't be a defensive moose, Michelle, you are who you are, love it and live it.

    January 23, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  22. Susan

    They wanted it, and now they have it. Deal with it.

    January 23, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. Susan

    we will not be purchasing any, but this is fair game, just as the Bush twins were mocked.

    January 23, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. Diane

    I agree. The kids should be off limits! They are in this situation because their parents chose to be. Leave the kids out of it!

    January 23, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  25. SueB

    Exploiting children is wrong, no matter who does it. It was wrong when it was done to Palin's kids. It's wrong when it's done to Obama's. Growing up has enough pitfalls. The kids of pols didn't ask to be in the limelight. Press used to be somewhat considerate, let the parents determine when to allow access to their kids, but more and more it's anything to get a story. Some of the derrogatory items sold with likenesses of Palin's daughter were disgusting. And making dolls that just happen to have such common names as Sasha and Mahlia – give me a break! Yes, it is within their right, but that doesn't make it right!

    January 23, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
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