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. Smarty

    Don't exploit other people's children without their parents permission.
    Consumers should not buy the dolls and immediately the 13 million Obama emailesr should jump on this eny meny mine mo bean baby company. Shame on this company. Greed Greed -more Greed

    January 23, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  2. Ravi in MO

    This is outrageous and despicable! How dare they use two innocent CHILDREN to make a buck, without seeking consent from the First Lady for this???

    And shouldn't Malia and Sasha been given the option of saying "No, we don't want to be used for making your shareholders a profit". This is criminal because the First Daughters aren't getting paid a penny for this!

    January 23, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  3. give me a break

    This is a perfect example of corporations thinking of only money and profit, regardless of the lives they destroy.

    January 23, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  4. Ben in Dallas

    This is just one more reason whe the American public distrusts business. They skirt the law and lie to the consuming public, I hope they have a case and sue.

    January 23, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  5. Jenny

    Michelle needs to get over it. She needs to realize that when she and her husband decided to let the "cats" out of the bag, that they were fair game to such nonsense. If they did not want their kids to be fodder for such ideas, then they need to keep them away from the limelight – completely. They cannot pick and choose when and where the kids can come out in front of the public, because the dumb American public cannot deal with the whys and wherefores of those decisions. Keep them locked up and away from the public a eye and soon you will have no problems.

    January 23, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  6. La Chatte

    Bob, you're a jerk. Fortunately, you're opinion seem to be in a neglible minority. People like you are responsible for the miserable state of this nation. You're so ugly you will even say disparaging things about two little girls and then post your pathetic sociopathic crap on the Net. What can I say. You suck.

    January 23, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  7. ls in pa

    This would have been a good idea if Ty made arrangements with the Obamas first and made plans to donate some of the profits to charity.

    January 23, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  8. Bernie

    Being in the public light doesn't make you fair game for marketing.

    Maybe Mattel could make a "Cokey Cindy" Barbie doll?

    January 23, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  9. Peter (CA)

    The right wing nut jobs are in full force tonight.

    President Obama is a public figure. The First Lady is a public figure. Children under 12? I don't think so.

    Ty is way wrong on this one. The appropriate thing to do would have been to approach the Obamas, spell out their intentions, and state that the profits would go to a charity of the Obamas' choice. This is just blood-sucking at its worst but I guess that is capitalism at its best.

    January 23, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  10. bea

    lol.......defin. not buying these considering the fact that they wont accept the fact that they are suing Sasha and Malia's names......

    January 23, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    It make me sick to know that there are people out there trying to make a dollar by using the girls names on those ugly dolls. I'm with Michelle, back off of her children.

    January 23, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. Reisseroarma

    Очень понравилось, даже не ожидала.

    January 23, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  13. malclave

    The Obama girls are the property of Barack and Michelle Obama, and commonly used for political purposes. The dolls are clearly a trademark violation. They should have licensed the intellectual property.

    January 23, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. Briordy Meyers

    I guess its okay to use them on a campaign to get her husband elected, though. I mean it's not like a campaign is selling anything. Or the presidency is a public thing. Nah....Just dolls. They're the most despicable thing.

    January 23, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  15. Tom in CA

    It's simple – sue them for invasion of privacy!

    Aren't children under 18 off limits? TY has shown that they have NO morals This is absolutely disgusting!

    January 23, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  16. bankheadguinn

    You people out there that are hating on Michelle should be ashamed of yourself. I am ashamed of you haters. The children are off limits no matter what. If it were your children you would not like it.

    January 23, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  17. working mom

    Oh please- quit your whining, Michelle. You can't have it both ways. You've used the media for years and paraded your children out there so get over it already. Welcome to public life.

    January 23, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  18. Domenic

    Upset because they are not in the loop like coins, T-shirts, and etc as Oboma is doing with other promotional productc?

    January 23, 2009 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  19. Me Ca

    I have seen alot of mixed reviews here on this. Yes, no matter what the Obamas do the media and toy market and everyone else is going to use there names and faces on something. Is it right? No it isn't, this toy company must think the public is stupid. Of course these dolls are of the two girls and these dolls have there names. And Mrs. Obama had every right to voice what she felt. And it is a shame that the toy company makes up some stupid story. TY toys you are wrong period......

    January 23, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  20. working mom


    Get your facts straight? The clothes the Obama girls wore were CUSTOM MADE for them by J. Crew. They are not available to the general public. As for Michelle, she had custom made duds as well. How about the $3800 dress she wore on The Today Show? Funny how that's news and Sarah Palin's off the rack suit at Nordstrom IS...I'm just saying...

    January 23, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  21. Ashley

    Their dad being president does not make them "public" figures.

    They are children, and are private citizens. This is completely unacceptable of TY.

    January 23, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  22. Jan

    With our new president's pro abortion agenda the Ty company should be putting out partial abortion dolls. Little broken bodies of Mexican babies slaughtered with American tax dollars.

    January 23, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  23. working mom

    Should read "NOT NEWS"...

    January 23, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  24. Matt, Canoga Park

    Ty may have taken the names from the Obama girls but they have had the line of toys these dolls are from coming out for a while. They also have dolls named Britney, Hillary and Lindsay as well. You can moan all you want and make a big deal out of nothing because you have misplaced aggression issues. But names are just that... names. You can't copywrite them.

    Michelle Obama needs to grow a thicker set of skin fast and pick battles worth fighting or she is going to have a long 4 years in the public eye.

    January 23, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  25. TAM

    THIS IS VERY EMBARRASING!!! For a nation that is trying to move forward with change and respect for one another. TY is showing their disrespect and ignorance just a week after the this Great Historical event in American History. I do agree with many of you that they should be sued and the dolls should never make it to the shelves. I just hope that all americans will refrain and even boycott the company until they do the right thing. Retailers need to realize with out the american consumers they can too get in line to file bankruptcy as the economic crisis is affecting them as well. They should be more respectful in their marketing tactics!

    January 23, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
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