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. Bill

    Anything for a buck. Bloodsucking toy company.

    January 23, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  2. Critical Thinker

    So Tom, Where did you buy your Cheslea doll? Did you purchase your Jenna & Barbara beenie babies from Toys R Us or Ebay? Michelle has every right to be upset about a company using her girls for profit. What is wrong with some people? We talk about the new generation but what regards are we showing them if anything goes just for a buck?

    January 23, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  3. Michelle

    So Ty doesn't have to reveal the inspiration for the dolls? Do they think the public are idiots?? I cannot believe they did not ask permission to do this. For heaven's sake, my daughter's school has to ask permission to use the childrens' pictures!!! Ty needs to give their heads a shake and now donate all monies from the sale of these two dolls to a charity of the Obamas choice.

    January 23, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  4. Kelli

    U go Michelle....it's not right to use the likenes and or similarities of the first daughters so that the manufacturer can make a buck! Handle the situation appropriately...approach the parents, ask permission to use your daughter likeness, name, etc...BEFORE you create....Mom and Dad would probably sa NO–but as Americians-that's their choice–WOW, hat a concept! Those kids might be in the spotlight, but they are off limits.

    January 23, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  5. Sophia

    I understand what Michelle is saying as a mother. Michelle is a very educated women and she knows that the world will not and does not respect her privacy. However, she has a right to say that she does not approve of the dolls. A lot of the comments on here are ridiculous.

    January 23, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  6. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Some people will do ANYTHING to make a buck, but this is totally shameless. It is illegal to use someone's likeness without permission, and this no different.

    I know some probably buy these dolls, but if nobody bought one of these dolls they will lose money. I hope there will be a lawsuit to stop this gross and very shameful method of making money. Or better yet if they donate the proceeds to Charity, but that probably won't happen!!

    Why is there no Palin doll??? Why these two beautiful little girls??


    January 23, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  7. Roberta

    TY wouldn't reveal the source of their inspiration? Was it greed? Possibly money grubbing at the expense of children? This is beyond putting the family in the spotlight. TY is stealing their image.

    January 23, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. Ernie in LA

    This is getting good. I can't wait for the next chapter.

    January 23, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. chippyarm

    I don't know if I have ever seen as much ignorance on a board as there is on this board. Leave the kids alone!

    January 23, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. Nola

    The Ty Corporation will use anyone, anything to make a profit. Maybe Ty Corporation would be willing to give 95% of the profit made from these dolls to Malin and Sasha – maybe they will stop using minors without their parents permission.

    January 23, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. Liz

    I want TY to be sued for this breech of privacy. The children's images are not their property- end of story. Lawsuit...

    January 23, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  12. Wayne

    The President of the United States is the public servant and figure, not his family!!!!!

    January 23, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  13. Jan

    Those dolls are really ugly so they probably won't sell any. Either way Michelle will have to take the good with the silly if she wants herself and her family in the spotlight. We haven't been able to get away from photos of the Obamas for many months. That was theirs and the media's choice. Stupid dolls are only the beginning ....

    January 23, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  14. Gabs

    Its definitely wrong for the company to exploit the first children to make a profit. What makes me even angrier is watching some of these posts that talk about "it comes with the territory", "you wanted the limelight." Have we forgotten that the family is off limits? There were no dolls made in the image of any other past presidents' children, so why is it okay to do this with them? Obama is president, not his children and I don't think anyone is trying to seek the "limelight." That is just ignorant to say...

    January 23, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  15. "America is a Downright Mean Country"

    When you win the White House, you get the good and the bad. Like you are fond of saying, "America is a downright mean country!" Mrs. Obama, get used to it and stop complaining.

    January 23, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. BK

    I can not believe that all you people talking about 'boohoo', and 'get used to it' would be the first ones to sue if your kids had unique names and you HAPPEN to know the Ty Co. Executive who made two dolls that just happen to have your kids names in them. Did I mention that your kids gained some sort of fame JUST before they came out with the dolls? I don't think you would be happy either. These people will change the names of the dolls. It's the right thing to do.

    January 23, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. joe

    This is ridiculous.These toys must be withdrawn immediately. TY Corporation should not be allowed to use the little kids for their selfish goals and must apologise to the civilized world.We do not appreciate it.

    January 23, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. joan

    Everyone one should boycott the company that is trying to make money off the backs of these little girls. Shame on them. I'll never buy anything made by them again.

    January 23, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  19. Bob

    All I can say is you signed up for this. People in the public spotlight need to have thick skin.

    January 23, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  20. Shaniqua

    Hey Michelle, you'd think you'd be more concerned having your precious babies listening to the racist spew of Reverend Wright! Wow, your priorities are messed up girl!

    January 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |

    Michelle Obama should be careful what she says because I think
    she should first, ask, Are these products made in America?

    Companies are going bankrupt in our Country every day. Can
    someone create jobs where our clothing, toys, and Wal-Mart items
    are made in America. Seems funny to me, Wal-Mart is one company
    selling goods mostly made in China and other companies or going

    Let's start anew. New company's, MADE IN AMERICA. That might
    just be what America needs.

    January 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  22. Daniel FL

    I love how Rethuglicans come on here and try to make this a partisan issue. Would you be satisfied if Ty came out with a Beenie Baby named "Terrific Trig"? I'm sure Palin would ask for 50% of the profits to go to Neiman Marcus and restore her confiscated wardrobe.


    January 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  23. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Well too bad the Michelle didn't consider the impact to her kids before barry decided to run.

    January 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  24. Magna cum Laude Vegas Barbie for Obama

    I work as a trademark paralegal and when my company wanted to use an inanimate object, JAWS (well, techincally, inanimate once he wasn't the star of a movie, lol) on one of their products, we had to LICENSE that mark from Universal Studios...if use of an image requires a license, it strikes me that use of precious little girls whose father happens to be the POTUS AND naming said dolls after said little girls, would require at LEAST a heads up or letter of permission from the girls' parents...again, at the very LEAST...I am sure that White House Counsel has access to Intellectual Property attorneys in the D.C. area.

    January 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. Kathy

    Well...on the bright side, these dolls will probably be collectibles and worth a lot later on.

    January 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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