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. Ari

    So many of your comments are feigned and simply dumb. Malia and Sasha are little girls–There's no comparison to Sarah Palin's daughter! She had an unplanned pregnancy, while hear own mother is a staunch "Republican". That's fair game! What did Malia and Sasha do? The Obamas never once tried to "market" them before winning the election. Bottom line: Ty should have exercised good judgment–Or, at least, received consent from the Obama family. If not, my feeling is those little girls are entitled to profits generated.

    January 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Chris E

    Well FIRST FAMILY this is what happen when you run for office and have small childrens or grown childrens they because the lime light for everyone and thing.

    January 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Charlie

    If ALL the PROFITS, from this doll idea, goes directly to the U.S.O./Other Military Family Support organizers, to help families of ACTIVE DUTY and Injuried Soldiers from the current 2 WARS, currently ongoing, then I say SELL AWAY, if it's ONLY "for profit" FORGET IT! , and cancel this idea...NOW!

    January 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Vincent Petrosino


    P.S. Mary, being a public figure at 7 and 10 is not the same as it is for an adult. These girls are CHILDREN. Get it? The Obamas are parents who have the right not to see their children exploited. The Bush Twins were not. Chelsea Clinton was not. Amy Carter was not. So why them? Because of Ty's corporate greed, pure and simple.

    January 24, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. Mark

    I didn't know the obama has trademarked the name Sasha and Malia. Will I get public stoning if I I name my dog Sasha? Chill up, it's only some stupid names! America will be in deep trouble if the Obama family spend their first week in the office worry about something this insignificant!

    January 24, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Pat

    Children should not be exploited, laws aside.
    The Obama adults' exploitation of these children are nearing the edge of political norms. Now others want to exploit them in a different way. The gossips will want to know all the juicy details concerning each family member and as a whole family.
    Obamas, if you do not want more intense scrutiny of your children, stop parading them like prize livestock and normalize their childhood as much as possible under the circumstances. People who publicly display their children get similar treatment in large and small towns across the U.S. The presidents' families will naturally get similar treatment on a larger scale.

    January 24, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. FreeNLovIt

    Chill out!!! Have a little fun people. They're just dolls. This is America. You're not asked to worship them.

    January 24, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Miss Pearl

    TY should be ashamed, leave them, babies alone!!!

    January 24, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Amber

    Easily solved Intellectual Property issue. All TY needs is to be served a cease and desist. Although they're public figures (which they are, and congrats to Barack an Michelle who have tried to minimize that), TY has no rights to their names at present, and the case could be made that they will have to turn their profit margin over to the Obama's if intellectual property rights and licensing right have been violated.

    January 24, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |


    January 24, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. I'm confused...

    Why is it everyone wants to suddenly boycott Ty? Why don't you people show more concern for the real issues with the economy or the housing market? Ty making some money isn't going to ruin your life, but all of these banks folding and such are certainly affecting us. Do you think that any business truly acts in a completely ethical manner?

    I also feel that the Obama's were proud to flaunt their children during the campaign. It's unfair to start complaining now (even though Ty is clearly lying through their teeth...).

    January 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Mary 2

    People, she said it is inappropriate which it is. She is not angry, just highly annoyed as she should be. I am sure that she is aware that her children are now in the public arena. She has the right to voice her opinion when it quit obvious that the girls are being exploited for monetary reasons by a private business. Had she been contacted, and this was for a specific charity she might has reacted differently. As it stands, that is not the case.

    January 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. TKB

    I think these dolls are quite cute and I imagine a lot of little girls would like to have them. I do however object to TY not seeking permission from the Obama's to use the girls' likenesses and lying about the "source of the inspiration" for the dolls. It seems like some law is being broken here. I wonder what Sasha and Malia think of the dolls?

    January 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Persio

    Get over it, instead of sitting here complaining about dolls, why don't you send money to the poor kids that need the attention more than Sasha and Malia. That is if you people really cared, but i know you are just obsessed with Obama and everything that has to do with him.

    January 24, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. Pete

    First off, I'm a conservative. Hopefully CNN will post this in spite of my affiliation. Secondly, as a society we've gone overboard with our acceptance of commercialism and exploitation in all forms. The children of any public figure should be off limits. I wonder how my of you commenting on this buy the Equirer, People, Us or any of the other exploitive news rags published. How many of you watch any of the zillions of reality TV shows that exploit. Oh, I bet there are bunch of you who are. Are you upset because Michelle is upset or you upset because a large corporation is trying to exploit these kids? I bet some of the same people complaining are the same ones who would buy one of these rags or what a show to get the scope about the death of the Travolta boy because "you just gotta know". Where's the out cry as the pap hounds anyone of notoriety and forces them to have to hide to get some privacy? As soon as we quit buying and watching this crap the market for it will dry up. Go find something else to do other than finding enjoyment in others misery.

    January 24, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Ron Ft. Myers

    Michelle needs to have Palin consult her on how it feels to have your daughter(s) in the limelight. I am sure that most of the people that commented on this story had no problem watching the media tear Palin's daughter apart...FOR MONEY!

    January 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Todd

    Regardless what their parent's do for a living, these are children. Perhaps if we, as a society, decide to ahow more respect to one another, our politicians will follow.

    January 24, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. RKR

    Leave them alone!!!

    January 24, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Carl Justus

    The Obama's should sue the company for everything they have and then some.

    That just goes to show a republican business man will do anything to make a dollar or avoid paying taxes.

    They should be banned from doing business, I do not care if we do need jobs, they should not use peoples likeness or names to sell a product unless the person gave permission and is paid a royalty if they want one.

    January 24, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. curtisnunnally

    I agree with the First Lady you should not market the dolls. Remember the Wall Street statement regarding greed: "Pigs get eaten."

    January 24, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. petena

    Its so sad the TY has to find a way to exploit these beautiful innocent girls. I think, WE THE PEOPLE, ought to take a stand. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME. These girls are not acresses. Let them be children for God's sake

    January 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. proudliberal-independent

    i agree with the first lady. unless ,of course, TY doesn't mind paying royalties.

    January 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Kim

    Unfortunately, many people are trying to capitalize on the popularity of our new President and his family. Ty should have: (1) asked Michelle about the dolls, (2) offered to donate some of the proceeds to children's charities.

    January 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Don

    Hey Michelle it could be worst. They could have made one of you and dressed it in those inaugural gold curtains.

    January 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. MARIE

    AJ in Florida you really sound like a person with great intelligence and most of all a father .Even though you did not vote for Obama and don't agree on some of his plans I must say I hear no predjudice in your comments.If some of these people commenting could act as adults as yourself and stop allowing their hatred for Obama..(which is what it is) act as mature as you then they could refrain from saying such hateful comments.Those of you who carry such hate for our president you should remember when Bristol 's pregnancy was revealed and the media wanted Obama to comment on Palin's unwed pregnant daughter during the campaign Obama was quite upset and told the media the children was off limits.Hopeful none of you become the misfortune of fame and have your children exploited because it will be only then that you can walk a mile in his shoes and only then will reality hit

    January 24, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 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