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. ben

    I and my friends have agreed to mobilise people to boycott the companies products. How disgraceful of them to exploit such innocent children. Some people who are anti obama want us to believe it is ok if it were their children being abused in this way.

    January 24, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Gary

    What a whiner she is.....she needs to get laid, big time.

    January 24, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Ann

    Who cares. Michelle Obama doesn't like it, fine. I'm not buying them. Big deal.

    January 24, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. George

    I am not for Obama and not a symphatizer of Palin either, but don't you fol?s read that during the campaign when media start jumping on Palin children, Obama defended Palin by saying that her children should be off limit?

    January 24, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. JM

    Tyco is quite out of line but what would you expect? They are obviously unethical and more interested in making a buck than in respecting the first family and their privacy. No wonder American kids are so often completely selfish, unethical and clueless. Their adult role models are often completely selfish, unethical and clueless.

    January 24, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. yaja

    What's next, Mrs. First Lady? Do you want to copyright your dress and gown that you wore on inauguration day as well? Stop whining.

    January 24, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Me

    I'm not a big fan of Obama, but this is ridiculous.

    I agree with Michelle.

    January 24, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Chris, Ohio

    Ty may have pulled a major public relations fiasco with this one. I realize times are tough for all businesses in this econony but it's a bit much for me to believe this was a "coincidence".

    The only way companies will understand things like this are unacceptable is for the public NOT to buy the specific products. If a product doesn't sell, it sends a message to the company. I suppose you could boycot the entire range of products sold by this company, that would send a clearer message to them.

    I am offended by the use of the Obama children to sell toys. Perhaps if Ty had discussed this with the Obamas prior to the release of the dolls and had agreed to donate a percentage of the profits to a charity of the Obama's choice I would feel differently. Those children, through no fault of their own, have had their lives irrevocably changed – they will no longer be just "kids", instead they are the "President's kids". I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

    January 24, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. chris

    be quiet michelle obama i voted for your husband and you all knew what you were getting involved in you know the spotlight you cant just have what you want and pick and choose your pieces

    January 24, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. Cross

    Working Mom are Series :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…

    First of all the McCain administration took Palin on a Shoping Spree worth $15,000 during the bad Economy slump while still campaigning.

    As for the Obama Family as my kids they kept it real then Michelle Obama shopped at Target & Wal-Mart. Then Senator Obama wore the same 4 suits for 3months. Now the First Family deserve a littel respect of course she could where a dress $1500 or $2000 now she's the First Lady.

    But, I garanteed She will Never For Get Where She Came From... She's Keeping it Real... And you ever see stop by Target once in awhile (Mrs. Working Mom) or should I say "Soccer Mom"...

    God Bless

    January 24, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. marilyn

    I am in total agreement with Michelle. These are young children and should not be used as marketing products for any company.Mrs.Obama always insisted that her children were raised and will continue to be raised as ordinary citizens. I applaud you Mrs. Obama.Maintain your values and standards as you continue the biggest task in your life and that is to be a good parent to your daughters.

    January 24, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. jc


    January 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Slm

    For all of you throwing Bristol into this, do you remember Barack & Michelle saying that people's children should remain off limits?

    Seems many are forgetting that.

    The children didn't ask for this attention.
    And should not be brought into the media spotlight.
    Neither Malia & Sasha, OR Bristol, Willow, Track, Trig, etc.....

    As for these dolls, TY really needs to rethink their press release.
    No one is buying it.

    January 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Janey

    then why did Obama let himself be marketed adnauseum to benefit dems during the election? they have exploited those children from day one in mags and on tv and radio–give it up.

    January 24, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Tay-Jim

    Surely there must be some logical explanation for this. It must have come up with these a long time ago so they can't be named after O'bama Rama's kids. I sure these have been in the pipe line a long time. As a matter of fact my kids have the same names as O'bama Rama's so you could also say the dolls were named after my kids. Come on, lighten up. What, now that you are in the White House you don't need the publicity anymore?

    January 24, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. ali

    bad judgement call for TY. These girls should not be used as any marketing stratedgy. Good for Michele to be upset. I would

    January 24, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Tim

    Get-a-grip woman. You are the most famous in the world . You are in the lime-lite now. As the saying foes –LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT

    COME ON !!

    January 24, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Lacey Patterson

    i think their cute.

    January 24, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Republican 2012

    Get over it Mrs. Obama. When you were campaigning, it's ok to take your kids. But now that it's over, they are off limits. Get a life!!!

    January 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Angela Washington

    Kate, shut up you sound jealous and stupid, your party lost get over it!

    January 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. James

    I am sure many people like, or even love, Malia and Sasha Obama. They exude sincerity, confidence and intelligence when they appeared in public. They can be good role models for chldren of the world. I hope their mother considers it a flattery to have dolls named after them.

    As for Ty to come up with the dolls and named them Malia and Sasha, they should have been more upfront. It will be a good publicity move if the company donates a share of the profits to an education-related charity in honor of the two first children.

    Let the market decide if the dolls will be a success. I am thinking about buying them for my two granddaughters, but I have to find out if I can afford them :>).

    January 24, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. ME


    January 24, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Lacey Patterson

    i think they are better role models than hannah montana or barbie.

    January 24, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Simon

    Where was the anger when Palin's daughter was being skewered in the media?! Ty should be proud of what it is doing – making money when other companies are filing for bankruptcy. Ignore the liberals – they are anti-intellectuals, short-sighted racists! Go Ty Go!!

    January 24, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. cnnnewser

    Where can I buy these dolls?

    January 24, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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