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. Perusing-Through

    What Ty did is nothing less than pathetic. But no surprise because this is American capitalism at its finest – – without ethics and anything for the almighty dollar.

    January 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. ob for change

    dont even look like them come on please leave the girls out of your maket adventure . the dolls are someone else, at leaset make them look like the girls

    January 24, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. tbag

    What people have to remember is that these dolls only share the name they do not resembe the girls. Therefore fair game... they are not advertised as Obama dolls. SO if you carry the arguement to the logical conclusion then any toy with a name similar to that of anybody in power or famous has to be withdrawn or renamed.
    All in all.. The Obamas put themselves in the spotlight and were extemely naive if they though this wouldnt happen ... no complaints about the Obama coins plates teeshirts nd other Obama crap. Infact we knw whats going to happen.... Obama will sign an executive order banning the use of his childrens names.
    Seems like thats his anwer for everthing seing as though he stated
    " I WON"...

    January 24, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Momwrites

    If the Obama daughters were sports figures or Hollywood actors they would have attorneys protecting their rights and bank accounts. I don’t remember seeing a doll based on the Clinton or Bush daughters. This subject brings up once again a person’s right to privacy and the difference between what parents do and what children are exposed to. Ty is out to make a profit, if I were the Obamas and couldn’t stop the sale of the dolls, I’d make sure the profits went to needy children. However, Ty has made a huge blunder and should apologize and deal with this situation honorably.

    January 24, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. so sick

    This is awful, TY is trying to make a profit. For all you idiots who think it is okay to exploit these children. This is no comparison to the Palin kids, Sarah Palin exploited her own children. You did not see any other kids on the campaign trail like Piper Palin ( Sarah couldn't afford a babysitter). And TNMom as far as Bristol Palin pregnancy goes, who cares she is just another teenage mother. You guys should mind your own business and worry about your own children.

    January 24, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. wasabe kid

    What this company is doing is perfectly legal as far as I know. It seems to be they should pay the Obama family for the use of the name. While it is legal...

    It is unscrupulous and immoral for this company to exploit these two kids in this way. America's children are a special population. They should be protected from commercial exploitation by thoughtful and responsible corporations.

    January 24, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Perusing-Through

    While Mom Michelle desperately tries to keep her two daughters grounded, Ty finds new avenues to give Malia & Sasha ego problems and turn these precious little darlings into the next Lindsay Lohans.

    January 24, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. jay

    minorities complain all the time when there isn't dolls that match their specific culture, instead having only the "Malibu Barbie" then when a company responds to the current attitude of our country and puts out dolls that are diverse now their our complaints from Michelle Obama? Shouldn't she be proud and see that this gives other little black girls inspirations. STOP WHINING !

    January 24, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. David

    These are humans, NOT OBJECTS!!!!!

    January 24, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. LuLu

    Wow all you republicans are hating on her because she wants her kids to be of the spotlight, remember the kids are under 18. and comments were made about "if she would like aborted beanies"? what a DUMB & RETARDED thing to say but i guess whomever wrote that comment must feel bad about herself and would comment something so stupid. If this was a palin child or Mccant child im sure you republicans would be defending them with no problems! the story is about 2 young girls people, how would you feel if this was your kids? no child should ever be exposed! so all you haters of Obama get over it we won and thats it, take your anger on bushy since he screwed up this country in 8 years and your all pissed and taking it on the wrong people!

    January 24, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. EBC

    This is just so ignorant on all levels.

    These dolls DO NOT represent the Obama's girls in any way, shape or form. This is just pure GREED on the part of Ty and their attempts to "sell out" our First Daughters.

    It's utterly disgraceful and despicable beyond words. I myself will NOT be buying this garbage.

    Everyone is out for a "quick buck', until it happens to THEIR own children.

    Everyone can talk TRASH about how the Obama's are in the public eye now, yadda, yadda, yadda. However, NO ONE deserves their children being exploited. President Obama and First Lady Michelle have ALL the right to decide what is BEST for their children. It does not matter whether they are IN or OUT of the White House.

    Every one of YOU in this blog have every right to decide what is best for YOUR child/children. NO ONE has the right to "judge" the First Family's personal decisions least they be judge on how to raise their own child! Bottom line.

    It's funny every loves playing judge and jury until the table is turned on their own lives. Hello.

    January 24, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. The Real Issue

    The Real Issue is the "First Lady" has spoken. Americans have an opportunity to think about what was said and do something about it. It's simple, if you agree, do not purchase the doll and if you do agree with the company, buy the doll. Another issue is the company not telling the truth about naming the dolls. Americans, do you want to purchase from a company that does not tell the truth with its marketing. I wouldn't buy it, especially at this present time.

    January 24, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. Penn Voter

    Don't Boycott TY, that would be stupid and unjustified.

    Rather boycott this political BS that Washington is always trying to force on us.

    January 24, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  14. Eli

    poor poor MICHELLE

    January 24, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Mariana

    Being written about is an expected consequence for the children of our highest elected officials, but having a commercial product named for you and receiving none of the profits, and having no say over how your name and likeness are used, is illegal. There is nothing partisan about this. What if, instead of sweet, lovable Ty Corp, it had been the makers of those BRATZ dolls who'd come out with a "Sasha" and "Malia" days after their Dad's inauguration? Would it have been easier to understand how that might have hurt these children?

    Ty Corp is lying through its teeth and I think their parents should ask for a cease-and-desist order, or for all profits from these dolls to go to some worthwhile cause - perhaps supporting animal rescue organizations, or something else their daughters can select.

    January 24, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. Rhianna

    i understand why the first lady is upset why ty have made beanie babies to lok exactly like the first children .the should have asked permision thought Mabye they thought the publicity would be good for the children buts its not .those children are know going to have so many fake friends .i am with the first lady but mabye the ment good tidings like a gift to the first lady and barack and mind you i am barack folower

    January 24, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Penn Voter

    boycott politicians and political families (Bush, Kennedy, Clinton, Obama....), they have no ethics.

    January 24, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. ccurtins

    That's a bunch of crap the toy makers are saying.

    January 24, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Pat Canada

    I don't blame the First Lady. If this company didn't seek the Obama's permission to market these dolls they are more than out of line!

    January 24, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. ALT

    Well Palin lovers why don't we have a pregnant Bristol doll developed by Ty? Would that make you happy? BTW, I don't think the new president's daughters are going to be skipping down the street to school or riding in a normal car. Security is very high and interest in these girls is off the charts. It's better to allow some "controlled" photo ops or then we end up having the British royal family craziness with the Obamas. And you can see how that turned out.

    January 24, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. James

    I bet that if Ty offered her money then everything would be fine.

    January 24, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. Samantha Richards

    what i dont understand is why would ty make beanie babies to look like the first children. Do i think the first lady is overeacting no beacauseall she is doing is trying to protect her kids and i am with her but first of all
    1. the chidren did not run for president Barack did
    2. second of all ty has no right to make beanie babies to like the first chidren. I think those children deserve to have all liitle bit of privace after all know that these children will have the press bothering these children but i am not siding with anyone here

    January 24, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Jeremy

    Meh... don't really think this is such a big deal. Ty had a great idea and a good way to sell their product and make money. If parents don't buy them then it's a lesson to Ty and other companies out there... I, however, will be buying 5 sets of these dolls so I can cash in on them in 20-30 years. 🙂 Think about the future!!! 😀

    January 24, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. bj williams

    that is life, get used to it........you wanted to be in the position, now deal
    with the results. it is
    unfortunate for the girls, (parents did it).
    parents need to think of children before they go out for the big time

    January 24, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Perusing-Through

    Definition of "TY":
    An American manufacturer of stuffed toys and plush animals, and most famous for its Beanie Babies product line. Ty is based and incorporated in Westmont, Illinois. TY IS NOW FAMOUS FOR ITS EXPLOITATION OF A DOTING MOM's CHILDREN AND WILLINGNESS TO CAPITALIZE ON THE OBAMA-MANIA AND DO "ANYTHING" FOR A BUCK.

    January 24, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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