THE BLOG
02/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TY Dolly Store, if You Didn't Get the Memo From First Lady M.O. - Don't Try to Play her Girls!

If you go to Ty Company's web site www.ty.com/newhome, you can meet the newest "Ty Girlz" dolls -- Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha. Presented on line to the tune of a mature audience jazzy piano jingle, you see the two dolls floating in the air waiting to land into the arms of millions of little girls who fantasize that their new BFFs are the Obama First Daughters Malia and Sasha. Owning these dolls creates what Big Apple Talk Show host Diva Wendy Williams says about people she admires from afar -- "a friend in their head." However, Mom in Chief is not feeling this at all, and like In Living Color's Homey the Clown -- First Lady M.O. don't play that!

eBay has the dynamic doll duo on their site going for as high as $175.00. To get parents amped up to buy, the seller writes, "I don't think you will be able to get these dolls for long if at all so add it to your collection because with all the controversy they may not be available to ship later!" Another set of dolls on the same site going for $36.99 displays the two dolls posed in front of books written by President Obama.

Obamamania is everywhere and Ty Company can't be blamed for wanting to proffer its own stimulus package to energize a struggling U.S. Capitalist economy with a "unique" and "new"idea to get America's smaller consumers to pester their parents to spend money. Ty's dolls are a personification of the First Daughters and the company should stop pretending and just admit it.

One of the ten strategies employed by billionaire owner and philanthropist Ty Warner to market his beanie baby product is "Personification." Personification is impersonation and embodiment. Personifying the Ty Girlz makes them easier to connect with the buyers. Therefore, by giving the dolls the "unique" names of Malia and Sasha, Ty claims they just happen to like increases the excitement of the buyer to feel they were not only colored rag dolls with "real doll hair," but perhaps getting a piece of something more real than that. So within Ty Company's marketing philosophy, spokesperson Tania Lundeen was very comfortable stating that, "There's nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls. [and]....It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not." Gotta hand it to Ty Company they are extremely astute. The operative words are "nothing on the dolls" and "exact replications." Ty Girlz designs are never meant to be an exact anything, but just enough of a characterization for consumers to make enough of an emotional connection to buy the dolls. This is why copy cat naming was critical.

Over the last two years, we have been reading, seeing, saying and hearing the names of Malia and Sasha, and it is really funny that the Ty Company would continue to defend itself with a straw man argument about using their names. At least the multi-cultural toy company www.Dollslike.com admits the dolls are representations of the Obama girls. With a picture of the Ty Girlz dolls next to a manifesto featured on the web site, the owner exclaims,

"Without doubt, the Obamas have become American icons. And with iconoclasm comes love, adulation and yes, in some cases, exploitation. DollsLikeMe.com is not exploitative In addition to receiving an overwhelming positive response from parents wanting to purchase the Sasha and Malia dolls; DollsLikeMe.com has also received an extremely vitriolic and unwarranted backlash for deciding to carry the dolls in our store.

We are proud to say that we stand by our decision to sell the Ty Company's dolls named Sasha and Malia. Not because it's a good business decision that fits squarely into our mission, but because like Obama's presidency, naming modestly dressed dolls after two sweet young Black girls..."

Are the dolls African American or bronze? Ty Company didn't put any thought into the psychological impact these dolls would have on black girls. For Ty, tasking risks to create a marketing craze to make a huge profit is worth taking political hits -- the biggest hit from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's First Lady.

Ty Company is known for its corporate giving towards causes related to HIV/AIDS and the American Red Cross. The company gave thousands of Beanie Babies to children in Iraq. President Obama called on Americans to give back. Ty Company knows how to show consideration, but they chose to arrogantly name these dolls after the real Malia and Sasha make-believing it was harmless.

The magic sparked by the two White House girls and their significance to other girls around the globe, could have possibly triggered a different reaction had Ty Company thought about how the greater good could have been better served by picking up the phone and dialing 202-456-xxxx, to just ask.