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. RobinH

    Did someone tell Michelle Obama that being in the White House is a PUBLIC position? I think MIchelle Obama should develop a thick skin real fast.

    January 24, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. danstrayer

    If using children for advertising purposes is so offensive, where is the outrage against McDonalds Corporation? They've been aiming ads featuring children, aimed at children , for decades. And their products are a lot more destructive and immoral than a couple of black dolls.

    January 24, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. Libbey

    If Ty had asked permission, donated some of the proceeds to worthy causes OR at LEAST admitted these dolls were modeled after the first children it would be acceptable.

    As is - poor taste Ty. You're lucky there are no lawsuits.

    January 24, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. RON

    Now hush children (whiners)....just do your job Barack...ignor the greedy marketeers ... they put us where we are now...in an economic mess....be sure you and yours keep your heads high and work like the good Americans.....give me a call if you have questions.

    January 24, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |


    January 24, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Dianne

    I used to like the Ty products, but will no longer buy any more and I encourage ALL Americans to boycott Ty. Those dolls and their names are not a coincidence and the exploitation of our president's daughters' likenesses is unforgiveable. Who I primarily blame are the people who buy them. When people learn to develop an ounce of dignity and morality towards things like this – and that includes book and movie deals that are all about sensationalizing and oftentimes harming others – companies will stop making these deals. I have never bought or read an unauthorized biography, or stupid book deal, never watched a movie that was not authorized by the family and is exploitive, and will not only not buy these dolls but wlil boycott Ty until they both pull the dolls AND donate all of the profits to a charitable use that the Obamas should be permitted to choose. Shame on you, Ty.

    January 24, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. bribri

    if you dont like the doll just dont buy it,. no one is making you.. im sure you old farts didnt cry when you got your elvis doll as a kid..

    i think they were smart and there just ridding the money train ..

    January 24, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Angélique

    I strongly disagree with anyone who says that Sasha and Malia are public figures.
    Because their father succesfully ran for president they must be subjected to every media coverage and people have a right to that?
    Nonsense, they have not asked for this life. THEY did not run for president.
    Of course, as president's children they will be subjected to media, that is unavoidable, but they don't owe us just because they live in the White House.

    Their father is a public figure, as well as their mother, but Sasha and Malia are not. They are kids and I believe it's up to their parents to decide what is good and what is not.

    January 24, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Walter

    This is exactly why people criticize politicians who run for office (especially the White House) when they have small children. It's one thing if your kids are grown up, but to drag a couple of toddlers thru the rigors of the White House is irresponsible parenting.

    January 24, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. cynical

    I wonder if she isn't more upset because they wanted to make deals that would benefit them personally, instead of a company...

    January 24, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Bridget Morris

    I agree whole heartedly with our First Lady. The First daughters should be off limits. They are too precious for this nonsense.

    January 24, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. elaine

    Independant "you", and the others, what are you talking about: "if TY increases production, this would create jobs" ??? Is that so? If you decided to sell drugs, you would be creating jobs too... right???

    I think Mrs. Michele Obama is completely intitled to be "furious" and everybody should be going after this Ty company, already exploiting the names of those two little girls. If this goes on, what's going to come after Han? Any company could be using those two little girls names on whatever they want?

    Anyone with a conscience and ethics will boycott Ty. They should actually be sued. Period.

    And by the way, when did being "a public person" alowed company to use your name without your authorization? Would Ty have dolls called and copying Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Tina Tuner, Elton John and so on, and claim that "it's a coincidence"? Get real, people.

    January 24, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Mary

    I love that Ty won't reveal its inspiration for the dolls. I think we know where it came from...what idiots!! I agree that it's extremely inappropriate. If I were a Ty customer, I would immediately boycott its products.

    January 24, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. khunya

    Calm down, cool your jest Mrs. First Lady. I would feel honored if I were you. Guess who are going to buy these 2 little dolls if not those kids and their parents who were all inspired and awed by this revolution of American election.
    If you ask Sasha and Malia, I'd bet they love the idea.

    January 24, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. D

    I find it perplexing that the company can say that the information they use to come up with product names is "proprietary", when the name of the products happen to be the names of the President's daughters...

    A very pathetic an weak response.

    January 24, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Totoro

    She's right, but by the same token the way in which Obama has reveled in being branded invites that sort of thing. There is a bit of not having your cake and eating it too, nevertheless leave the little girls out of it.

    January 24, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Dave

    Get real. You have no right to complain. You used your skin color, lies, money and anything else you could do to win an election but once you are in office your kids are off limits? You didn't say a word when Palin's daughter was being trashed did you?
    When you ran for the election you knew it was open game.

    January 24, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Babs

    with all due respect to the First Lady... they are no longer private citizens, they are part of the first family. Like having the Jonas Brothers appear at the White house for them, like that would happen for private citizens. This is the fish bowl they will be in for the next 4 years, hopefully they will be able to have some part of a "normal" life. And on the plus side they may become role models for other children in learning how to speak clearly and how to act properly, as you and the President, have done to date, such a great job.

    January 24, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Sherry C

    Michelle Obama should reconsider IF....TY admits they lied about the naming of the dolls and all profits go to a charity or some type of fund for our nations public schools.

    January 24, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Glen,

    Please remember that the other kids have been at the receiving end of some vicious sniping by the Democrats and particulalry Obama fans. The attacks on Chelsea, the attacks on the Bush girls, the attacks on Palin's kids. This is a compliment to Obama's girls. It is not a vicious and ugly Democrat attack. Maybe Michelle is just a little unhappy that she missed out on a campaign contribution for the next election.

    January 24, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. DAndrei

    Some people call it the "Bill of Rights" and little could be done in this regard. The First Family are now public property. Look at the issue with benefit... black dolls now can influence people of all races to "reinforce" the notion of pride in the African-American community. If Ty Co. gets bad publicity in America, the rest of the world will buy them. Are they for sale already?

    January 24, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |


    January 24, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Dad in CT

    Ty makes a doll named Abby and I have a daughter named Abby...should I be mad? Is that inappropriate? Should I even care? (I don't care and neither should Michelle Obama ) Did TY use the name Obama? Are the Obama girls the only girls named Sasha and Malia?

    How about we all complain that TY only makes caucasian dolls. Then we can complain when they make African American dolls because we don't like the names they chose. YAY for us, we are Dems who love to complain!

    January 24, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Amr

    The bottom line, the company had lied about the naming of the dolls being a coincidence. That is by itself is very shameful.

    January 24, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. brian

    Shows Ty has no Integertity and no origanality of its own..........

    January 24, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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