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. Shirley in California

    Well, she is their mother and it is her right to speak out. However, on another side-the dolls are beautiful. Everyone is in it for the money.

    January 23, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  2. Alan

    That's right!! The Obama's are the only ones that should be able to exploit their children for political or personal gain.

    January 23, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. Maggie SC

    Get use to it Michelle. the pubic are greedy and the factories know how to exploiate anything.

    January 23, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Renee

    TY has lost my business and that of my friends. It doesn't take an idea to know how they came up with the name Malia and Sasha. This is totally disgusting and TY should be sued.

    January 23, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Well, the Obamas don't own the names Sasha and Malia. I'm sure Sarah Palin was upset with how the media treated her daughter, which was much worse than having a doll named after her. Having a doll named after your daughters isn't the worst thing in the world.

    January 23, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. Tom

    Oh, get over it Michelle. What did you expect and what harm is this doing? It's not an invasion of your family's privacy no matter what your ambulance-chasing profession thinks. Just suck it up, there's plenty more to come.

    January 23, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. ap

    The Ty company is not fooling anyone simply by saying that they don't base their dolls on living people and by declining to "reveal the source of their inspiration for the new figures" – are they insane???? do they really think that that kind of NewSpeak will work on people??? I'm speechless at the idiocy of their official statement.

    January 23, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. simple thought

    everyone want's a piece of the action, free market, get use to it first lady,
    ya can't stop it and most could give a crap about it, goes with the territory,
    you could have hubby resign, of course it may not seem apporite, but it's not illeagal, time for you to get your house togather and suck it up. it's only the begining.

    January 23, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. Robert

    Did someone at Ty think, "win-win situation"? Get the publicity or get he profits... or both?

    What they did was make certain I will avoid buying from them and I'll try to convince everyone I know to avoid them as well. Obama fans will find this invasion into the children's lives offensive and non-Obama fans won't be interested in the dolls – except for all the wrong reasons – Which begs the question: What the heck were the idiots at Ty thinking?

    January 23, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Tiffany

    This is a horrific use of a private citizens image (not to mention the fact that they're 2 YOUNG GIRLS). I thought the Ty corporation would know better. Mrs. Obama has every right to be outraged.

    January 23, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. johnetta

    I think it is tacky of the toy company to exploit the First Children. Their father's job is President of the United States not their's. Exploiting them doesn't come with his position. The First Children are entitled to their own privacy, this is an invasion of such. Let them growup like other children.

    If the Obama children are needed to sell dolls then perhaps the company is in the wrong business. I call for a boycott of all the toys made by this company. Let's hit them where it hurts. Maybe then they will reconsider their actions and other First Children or children of other prominent persons will not be exploited in the future.

    January 23, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Bry

    Boo Hoo.

    January 23, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  13. J Cannon

    Ty had better be ready for a big, fat lawsuit. That's indefensible. In the meantime, wouldn't it be great if nobody bought one?

    As for the argument that somehow being President means that your family can be used for marketing purposes, that has never been the case before. Obama hasn't complained that suddenly his likeness is on every coin, plate and poster imaginable; he knows he's a public figure and so is the First Lady. See, they have titles and stuff, it's pretty easy to tell who's public and who's not.

    January 23, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. 1fender

    Typical of current practice for business. Call it corporate greed!

    Shame on them, I hope there is some legal action. Just because they happen to be the children of a public figure doesn't make them a public figures.

    And how many of these will they sell at $10 a pop?

    This is a disgrace!

    January 23, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Stacey

    Hmm, I can certainly see Mrs. Obama's point here, but at the same time, I really don't see why it's such a bad thing. When my daughter walked into the room and saw those dolls, she loved them and immediately wanted them. When I told her who they were supposedly modeled after, she wanted them even more! Kids around the country are in love with these sweet girls, so I can see why Ty would capitalize on that. Doesn't make it right, considering the circumstances, but I don't think making dolls fashioned after them is a complete travesty either.

    January 23, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  16. Fred

    "Shame for the commercialization of private citizens."

    Private? There's nothing at all private about being a member of the president's family. This seems completely innocuous to me. They should be flattered. I'd love to have my own action figure some day....

    Legally speaking, I think Ty's in the clear on this one.

    January 23, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. MAD

    For all of you who think this is funny, you might not think so if it was your kids. We (adults) do all kinds of things that affect our children but sometimes that can't be helped.

    Since it's clear you don't like the new first family, I'm sure you don't think they are doing us any good to be in the White House but YOU ARE WRONG. (Or so say millions and millions of my fellow Americans.)

    Unforunately that put little Sasha and Malia in the spot light. Something they didn't ask for.

    I'll bet you wouldn't be saying these evil things about the Bush girls or John McCain's kids.

    Well like it or not, these two children are just as precious in GOD's eyes as they are and they deserve to be protected by their parents as much as possible. Or didn't you learn that in church.

    Funny how many Rep. claim to be christians yet they write some of the most hateful comments I've ever seen...

    January 23, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Mrs. Obama isn't the only one upset, I'm upset also. Using the Obama's daughters as a marketing tool is totally wrong and don't let our children talk us into purchasing them.

    January 23, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. Joe From California

    yeah, well, maybe she should have used the funds her hubby just freed up today for an abortion or two THEN WE WOULDN'T BE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION!

    Also, Barry should be glad his white mother didnt believe in abortion!

    January 23, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  20. Barbara

    Please take a moment and send an email to the firm and request that they stop exploiting the Obama children.


    January 23, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. jazz

    I agree with Michelle Obama. These girls are very young and it's inappropriate.

    January 23, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  22. Jim

    Boo Ho – they parade the children around on stage in designer clothes and are upset when a company markets a doll or two with the same name as the children.

    If I recall correctly a few years back there were complaints that a certain manufacturer didn't make the dolls face "dark" enough so they were pulled off the self, then another complaint that toy companies were not making many black dolls.

    Now a company comes along makes a doll with a dark face that has the name of Obama children. Is she upset because she isn't getting her cut?

    January 23, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Dale

    Sorry Obama family. You choose a public life. You are no longer private citizens. What are you going to do when you are spoofed on Leno, Letterman, Saturday Night Live. Sorry MR OBAMA, you must meet with the media. Sorry MRS OBAMA. If you don't like it...QUIT!

    January 23, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. Kim

    Completely inappropriate. TY should be ashamed.

    January 23, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. aware

    Give me a break! People Magazine... have been selling these kids with Obama permission for many months, and PBO put his letter to the girls out for public consumption! 🙁

    This is just more Obama publicity!

    January 23, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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